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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  • Margie
    July 31, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    Enjoy the fruits of your labour! You’ve worked hard to build your bolg, and in the beginning it was unpaid.
    If a sponsorship helps you get what you really want, go for it!

    Thanks for honesty.

    • Anne
      August 1, 2015 at 1:12 pm

      Yes to this.

      • Jill
        August 2, 2015 at 9:03 am

        Second yes!

    • Marcee ... ILLINOIS
      August 2, 2015 at 4:29 pm

      Ditto + ENJOY!
      Go for what you want Nicole. Very hard worker you are. ;))

    • kristin
      August 3, 2015 at 9:12 am

      I think that you need to do what is best for you. You want to have a product you are happy with, and the free products you get for sharing what you like about them with us make that happen, then you should! I am ALL about free.

      I think the only thing I don’t like about blogs is when they get less about them, and more about ‘stuff’ (like i LOVED a couple of blogs before they posted many times a day- who has time to read all that?- and did theme posts for everything*. i’m not really a polished person, so i like it when things seem ‘human’)

      * this is NOT in reference to something like your take a piece of furniture/fixture through different phases of life. i LOVE thinking that way. Practical and cost efficient.

    • Allison F.
      August 3, 2015 at 12:28 pm

      Couldn’t have said it better! Go for it!!!!

    • Leslie
      August 3, 2015 at 12:54 pm

      Ditto, go for it. Whether a sponsored post or not, it is still YOUR voice…That is what we come for :-)

    • Nichole K
      August 3, 2015 at 1:20 pm

      Another “yes” to this! Go for it – can’t wait to see what you end up choosing (sponsored or not)!

  • Emily
    July 31, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    I’m another one in fan of sponsorship posts. Personally, I don’t want to see bloggers DIY everysinglelittlething or always go for the cheapest thing available. I like seeing blog content that I would actually put in my own house. The sponsorship posts that are off-putting is when they have very little to do with your core blog content (i.e., Blue Apron on a blog that has not previously EVER posted about food), and/or when you see bloggers cobble together a random post for no purpose other than to use their gifted product (“look what we made with Frog Tape and a random piece of wood!”). Keep your voice authentic. Be transparent when talking about products. And show us a pretty kitchen!!!

    • emily
      July 31, 2015 at 11:38 pm

      Friend speaks my mind. :)

  • Elizabeth
    July 31, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    I think you do an excellent job of balancing sponsored posts and non, and about making the sponsored posts interesting. I think you should continue to provide interesting ideas along with making a living at it. That’s hard in so many fields to find that balance, and I applaud your effort.

  • Victoria
    July 31, 2015 at 4:43 pm

    I appreciate you asking. In your shoes I think I’d probably just take the free stuff!! In all honesty I think I would prefer the “in the real world” kitchen. The one you save for and one I can relate to. However, I think you should do what is best for you. A couple of posts recently I have felt you were doing it for the free stuff. Or even, saying you really wanted something in the hope they would give to you. And I don’t think that’s what you were doing deliberately, it just felt a bit forced. Blogging is one of the jobs where you can’t take maternity leave, so I can understand how stressful it is for you to manage a blog and your income at the same time as having a new baby and a family.

    What would make it feel better to me is if you could maybe do plans for two versions? The free stuff version, which I’ll say again, I completely understand you taking and would do myself, and a “if I wasn’t getting the 36″ stove for free” version.

    It reminds me of how I felt when Young House Love closed the blog. I love reading a blog where people are relatable. I want to hear from you regularly, which you can do because this is your job. Except I don’t want it to be a job. Blogging is so weird in that a reader can feel so connected to the blogger. I sometimes see a thing and think “I must tell so-and-so”. Except it’s a blogger who doesn’t know me that I want to tell! I realise it’s a completely unrealistic expectation to want both sides. Soooo, that probably doesn’t actually help you at all!

    To close I’ll just say, I enjoy reading about you and your family on the blog and will continue to follow. As long as you’re not all “and here are my free gold plated taps and my free mink oven glove”

  • Gretchen
    July 31, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    I’m totally envious that you have such a large readership to ask this kind of interesting question to, lol. You have a lot to be proud of—don’t let the haters get you down.

    Don’t worry about attainability—your decorating budget is already miles above mine. I’m here for your great personal style, and I love that you’re really working with the history and style of your unique (on my reading list anyway) house.

    I think what’s really interesting is hearing about your decision–making process. I’m also planning a multi–phase kitchen redo. Since you mentioned the possibility of expanding the kitchen in the future, I’ll be interested to hear what you choose for, say, countertops, knowing that they may be changed down the line. Really, how you pay for it is the least interesting consideration (unless you have a money–saving tip, of course :) ).

    Sponsored or not, I always enjoy a followup post about how appliances, etc. are working out six months or a year down the road. What features/products are actually useful (and especially not useful) for daily life? If you get a fancy model of something with a million features for free and tell me which features to skip/splurge on, I’ll be really happy!

    For an actual purchase decision, knowing you had chosen an item first and then sought out sponsorship would definitely have more weight than if a company contacted you first. I didn’t even know the first way was possible until another blogger mentioned it. So +1 for transparency and detail if you decide to go that route. We readers can be more clueless than you think. But now I know the other way can be more lucrative, so a mix is fine with me. Do what’s best for you!

  • Karen!
    July 31, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    Hi Nicole. I’m coming at this from a different perspective. Or exactly the same one, I guess, lol. I did almost my entire kitchen from sponsored posts and told my readers exactly how I did it. It was a big cross promotion I organized between Canadian Living magazine, Home Depot and a few smaller companies. It worked great and not a single reader was at all bothered by it. This is the final reveal, but leading up to the reveal each sponsor got their own post. ~ karen!

    • Amie
      August 1, 2015 at 9:33 am

      I am also a reader of your blog, Karen, and thought you did your renovation with great taste and gumption. You were clear about what was sponsored, and kept us going all the way through the process.

      When it is such a big project, like a kitchen remodel, why not take advantage of the resources open to you as a blogger and allow your family to have what they wouldn’t be able to else-wise!

      It was also nice to see a Canadian blogger be able to take advantage of freebies and sponsorships because they are much harder to come by up here. Our smaller market makes some sponsors reluctant to partner with bloggers because they can’t reach as much Canadian saturation as their American counterparts. Example, YHL’s readership versus AoDS.

    • Hayley
      August 3, 2015 at 6:36 am

      I was actually going to suggest Karen’s approach myself! I really enjoyed her kitchen redo, and the open way she dealt with it. Definitely follow Karen’s lead.

      I’m excited to see some meaty content. I feel like you’re holding back on telling us about this house for some reason – I can’t picture the kitchen at all, I don’t remember if you have a back door etc. I feel much less connected to this house than the old one.

      It would have been interesting to follow along with the rewiring for example, choosing contractors, clearing areas out, your experiences living through the work.

      I’m not bothered by you getting free stuff for the kitchen at all, as long as create some proper content around the remodelling. It’s boring to be told ‘Oh we rewired’, or ‘we are rewiring’ without details, I like to be taken along on the whole journey. That’s why I love following blogs. Please don’t think these things are boring to readers – I’m interested in all aspects of remodelling / updating, not just before and after photos of sofas (in fact, I find those much less interesting – everyone shops, not everyone updates historic houses).

  • Zoe
    July 31, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    I don’t come to your blog to read about a modest DIY. I have other blogs for that. I come to read the fantastic, bold, and expensive choices you make that I would never be brave or rich enough to attempt.

  • Heather
    July 31, 2015 at 6:26 pm

    I love seeing how you work within the structures of older homes. I would love to see the most beautiful, impressive kitchen you can come up with, with the help of sponsors!

  • kris
    July 31, 2015 at 6:28 pm

    I tend to read blogs for ideas for my own home and I’m sorry but I cannot relate to a blogger who uses free high end product in their renovations. It leaves me with no inspiration. I could never afford a kitchen renovation with a smeg fridge or Viking range, $40/ square ft tile, $150/roll wallpaper, etc. It just makes me sad. There’s no point in me reading a blog who is completely unrelateable. As your average reader I would get so much more out of a modest real life budget. I find it amazing that companies give out so much free product to bloggers. It blows my mind! Your in a tough situation, I mean, if I were offered a complete free kitchen renovation I’d be all “hell yeah” but I will never be in that situation. Best of luck in either decision you make.

  • Cari
    July 31, 2015 at 9:21 pm

    You need to make the kitchen that is best for you and your family. If you plan on staying in this home long term, that is what matters. That said all I care about is that you don’t destroy or find a way to reuse that beautiful cabinetry. I had a house from 1910 with much of the same layout issues. Even worse, it went sink stove, fridge or fridge stove – all on one wall. All with basically no counter space. I had full built ins with no counter tops.Not functional. We did a low cost remodel that gave me a 24″ of counter to the left of the sink and 6″ between the sink and stove. We added a peninsula where the eat in table had been. The addition of 10 sf of counter space total and a bit of extra/ modern storage made ALL THE DIFFERENCE in the world. If you could get an island into that space, I think you would feel differently about it entirely. You could make a temporary work table to try it out (oh, the blog fodder).
    It would function as prep space, a place to set things from the fridge and a place to keep items handy for use at the stove on that end. The end towards the back could have an over hang or a different height for a few stools to allow the kids to eat. You could keep it open or gain even more storage. You may be surprised how such a small change can make a functional difference.

    Any swag you can get to pretty it up the way you like – Go for it!

    Just a thought. I have a modern house now and I am sooooo jealous of your copious storage. Good luck and be happy.

  • Meg
    July 31, 2015 at 9:49 pm

    Love your blog and your refreshing transparency:) I agree that this is your life and you should do what’s best for you, your family and your home. A regular renovation would be more attainable for me but I can still draw inspiration if you go high end.. It doesn’t affect me in other words. The only thing I’ll add is Blue Apron is all over every blog and snore snore. But you rock!!

  • Susan
    July 31, 2015 at 9:54 pm

    The recent coffeemate and blue apron posts were examples of things that seem out of place. Also agree with other comments about the non-sponsored posts feeling a little flat lately. Anyway, I totally think you should redo your kitchen with sponsors. It would be great content, and totally different from the coffeemate and Blue Apron posts in that I would assume you’ll actually really like the freebies and would be interesting design choices.

  • AnnW
    July 31, 2015 at 10:48 pm

    Take the sponsorships. You deserve it. It will also allow you to preserve the good parts of your kitchen and teach us how to renovate without destroying the charm and essence of a house. I loved the Blue Apron posts. They were informative. I tried the company Hungryroots or something like that that made pasta like shapes from vegetables. It was great.
    You have a lot of integrity and will not take advantage of all the free stuff. We know that about you. We view your house as your laboratory. A budget type kitchen is not respectful of the house.

  • Meg
    July 31, 2015 at 11:02 pm

    I love your blog and have been reading it since you started it. I think you would be crazy not to cash in on freebies and sponsorship, as they relate to your renovation. I don’t understand people who say they won’t be able to relate if you go higher end because of sponsorships. That sounds crazy to me, as though you only want to read and look at media that reflects your personal budget….Pretty limiting and strange to me.If you get a raise, will you exclusively reading new blogs? I do think the tone of the sponsored posts has been flat lately and isn’t reflective of the voice used previously in your writing. Also some of the more fun original non-sponsored content that you had earlier is not as frequent. (I just assumed that it’s baby craziness and that is totally legit!) Maybe you just need to be more picky with sponsored posts? I’ll keep reading and a bunch of new kitchen reno posts sounds amazing!

  • Jeanne
    August 1, 2015 at 7:27 am

    I really enjoy your blog. You have to be a super woman to be able to do all of this and raise three children. If you ever have a house tour, let me know. I live in the area.

  • marjorie
    August 1, 2015 at 8:39 am

    personally, i love your blog because i love your tastes. i think you should accumulate and create a house that suits you because you live there. i, as a reader lie that good content either way. i dont’ mind a bit about sponsored verses non sponsored. i really just like to so how its done and the process involved so that i can create my version regardless of your price vs my price. if the how to is right then the price can be adjusted accordingly. doing it yourself or was it hired out? is it possible to do it yourelf or should it be hired out. where is the beginning? do you start a reno with electrical or plumbing first? how one obtains said kitchen necessities, whether extravagant or not, is not always important. its how one creates a spaces with what they have. your budget will never be exactly like another readers, so to make it relate-able is in the how its done. i am personally really good at buying at a good deal and then selling/exchanging for what i want and i can a lot more out of my dollars. but this is difficult for someone else to do it the exact same way. instead i would explain the method to them so that they can see something they are not looking for, buy it at a great price and sell or exchange for the value of what they ARE looking for. so i would just suggest that when you describe your reno, show how its done and your process. how we apply this information is up to us to be creative and cost is only in approximation by region anyway.

    • Antonella
      August 12, 2015 at 10:10 am

      “i dont’ mind a bit about sponsored verses non sponsored. i really just like to so how its done and the process involved so that i can create my version regardless of your price vs my price.”


      inspirations, suggestions, method of choosing, showing how it’s done make any post relatable and useful to your audience (to me for example!)


  • Bethany
    August 1, 2015 at 9:45 am

    I understand why people get squeamish about sponsorships, but I don’t think its fair of us readers to ask you to limit your kitchen redo that way. Sponsorships are part of you income stream. You earned it and I think you should use it. Would we really begrudge ourselves for using our respective incomes for the best kitchen possible? Absolutely not. Go for it! Can’t wait to see and be inspired by the amazing outcome!!!

  • Raelene
    August 1, 2015 at 11:27 am

    a) I’ve always loved that reading a blog is like being a fly on the wall in your home (and often, your life). And I think it would be unfair for you to limit yourself or make a decision based on the fickle opinions of the flies (because let’s be honest, sometimes we’re pretty fickle!)

    b) I think you’re totally right – freebies are added income because this is your JOB.

    c) I totally appreciate that you’ve asked. And I (fickle fly that I am), am on board with a few others that the most recent sponsored posts feel a little flat. Maybe because I come here (as another commenter said) for your bold, flamboyant style and I want to hear about the awesome things you can do in an old house (not the budget-friendly compromises). I kind of want to be wowed; for me it’s not about if I could do the same thing in my own house. It’s the dream that’s so compelling! So if you’re making that happen – go bold. Go sponsored. And clue us in on all the juicy details.

    d) I do also like the idea (as someone else suggested) of doing the sponsored kitchen with all the awesomeness you can muster while every now and again offering us lowly flies the budget-friendly, dream-worthy alternative for our own kitchen renos.

    But in all cases, I say go with your gut and use all the resources available for you. For example, my father in law is a carpenter and contractor and he can get me a good rate for good work (and yes, sometimes that’s free because we’re family) – no way I’m gonna find someone else to charge me full price when I have good work at a good price available. You shouldn’t either.

    Keep up the good work, Nicole! I’m uber excited to see this fabulous kitchen come to life!

  • Kari
    August 1, 2015 at 11:49 am

    I’m all about you taking the sponsorships – as long as the posts give true insight into your design and renovation process. You have a unique voice and perspective on home design in the blogging world and I want to know the inner workings of your mind. (Creepy?) Honestly, I do have a preference on pieced together sponsorships verses an overall “brought to you by…” renovation. When a company has exclusive rights to your project sponsorship, it feels like a commercial for their company. I want to be introduced to new companies that you like and have used. I want to see the process of the hunt – if it’s exclusively sourced from Target (for example), I have no clue what you really want, just what you can find I’m one store.
    I think what everyone just wants to hear your voice. I love your “new” home, but the design process is so different than your previous homes. It’s exciting to know a kitchen renovation is coming! We trust you to make the best decision. This is your house and blog after all. :)

  • Katie
    August 1, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    If the kitchen you want has sponsorship perks, go for it! That’s an opportunity you have to jump at. Let the haters hate, but if they had the opportunity to get items for their kitchen for free, they’d take it. I know I would!

  • Nadine Arseneault
    August 1, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    AGA Stoves are BEAUTIFUL!!!

    I’m all for sponsorship content for your blog!

  • Lori
    August 1, 2015 at 1:45 pm

    Anyone who thinks great heaps of the content they are consuming is NOT sponsored or strategically placed (whether online, via TV, out in the world, etc.) should reassess from a less naive frame of mind. All those cool guests on Fallon? They’re not just BFF. They need to promote something. Those posts in your Facebook feed? That review of the newest item in Real Simple? Not a coincidence. With this in-mind, I see no problem with sponsored posts. You deserve to make a living.

    However, I will add one caveat: You gained your following with authenticity and a specific voice. The Sponsorship Road can be a slippery slope, so I would encourage a hard gut check every so often to make sure your critical lens is on, firmly. If a sponsor can’t take that you might have cons with your pros, then they’re not a worthwhile sponsor. If there is any pressure on your editorial content, then they should be left as display advertisements.

    PS I don’t read any ads from other authors. They don’t show in my RSS feed, and when I click to your site, I am surprised to see them and consider them “eh.” For me, it’s the All Nicole All the Time Show.

  • Sandra
    August 1, 2015 at 2:15 pm

    I think it depends on the sponsor. Sponsorship by American Express, Coffeemate, Blue Apron, I think that’s a little too unrelated to what I come here to read. But honestly, you’re offering me and all your readers a free product (access to your blog), so I feel as long as your sponsored posts are clearly stated then I don’t mind there being unrelated ones in there every once in a while. Blogging isn’t free, your time isn’t free, you deserve to be fairly compensated.

    I do think it’s important to keep your unsponsored posts relevant and outnumbering the sponsored ones, or you’ll lose this reader.

  • Kathleen
    August 1, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    I like the suggestion to draft two versions: what you would do if you were like most of us and had to save up and stay within a fairly small budget; and what you can do if you can afford higher-end materials. The source of the funding is less important to me as a reader than keeping it all real. I can rarely afford higher-end materials myself, so I balance the very ordinary with a few extra-ordinary when I can afford it. I would love to see how you strike a similar balance, and if your little bit extra comes from sponsorship, go for it!

  • lauralou
    August 1, 2015 at 3:50 pm

    I love your blog. I think you balance out your diy and sponsored posts. I appreciate the sponsor disclosure. I also appreciate what a huge job it is to be a blogger. This is part of your work. Bring on the renovation. I can’t wait to see what you do and how you do it, sponsors and all!

  • laura
    August 1, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    I think your question misses the point a bit.

    You have a design blog. Taking on a design project with some sponsorship does not seem like a big deal and I imagine the vast majority of your readers would be just fine with that. It would be really silly to turn down assistance with this remodel since it is something that you would certainly have done with or without sponsorship. I do believe that you would not put something in your home unless you genuinely liked it, so i could imagine that any endorsement of your sponsors would be genuine.

    I read plenty of blogs with sponsored content that is meaningful and works well with the theme of the blog.

    The problem is the endless stream of sponsored posts (blue apron, nature box, honest diapers, ge light bulbs, coffee mate) that make it seem like you would promote anything for a price. These are not posts that are enhanced by sponsorship, they are posts that are essentially about nothing, just an ad for a product. When it is very clear that the ONLY reason for a post is that it is sponsored it demonstrates a profound lack of integrity, which I find terribly disappointing.

    I had been a reader of your blog since long before your had kids and I used to enjoy your voice at it seemed genuine, not so much now.

    I think there are plenty of readers like me who miss the old blog and would prefer a return to a more genuine voice, I think you could easily achieve that by being a but more discriminating about the sponsors you choose to work with.

    I also think there are plenty of others who really are not bothered by the current level of sponsorship, and you could just work on appealing to that crowd knowing that you will lose a lot of your old time readers. Only you know your blog stats and whether or not you could afford to just ditch that demographic.

    • Tanja
      August 2, 2015 at 3:29 pm

      Well put, Laura!

    • Avery
      August 3, 2015 at 1:25 pm

      Agreed. The “homegrown” content seems to have gotten few or farther between–I read your blog through Feedly, and as I caught up this week, the top 10 posts had 4 sponsored posts within them. Coffeemate and Blue Apron seem so out of place.

      It’s not the sponsorship that bothers me, it’s the fact that the content feels so inauthentic. If you’re redoing your kitchen, there’s a process involved that you can document and storytell, and really, where the product comes from is sort of irrelevant. If there is substance to it, that is fun for us to read.

      Thanks for checking in with your readers :)

    • Lea
      August 3, 2015 at 5:12 pm

      Agreed. I think we pre-baby readers aren’t the current target audience anymore. I actually don’t read anymore but check in every so often. The blog feels more consumerism driven and not transformative or inspired. But that can be said for many blogs nowadays.

      Nicole– It’s your kitchen. Do what you want. If the majority of your consumers (audience) is ok with your product (blog), then keeping doing what you do. If the minority are people like me, then it’s ok to ignore us. I’m not contributing to your income anymore anyway.

    • Jenny
      August 3, 2015 at 8:24 pm

      I would add that Nicole recently had a baby and didn’t really take any maternity leave. So if the content isn’t as 100% whatever you wish it were, give her a break!

      • Tanja
        August 5, 2015 at 1:47 pm

        This is her job and this blog is her business. Forgive me, but with a stay-at-home husband and a mom basically working from home that argument doesn’t hold.

  • Barbara
    August 1, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    Go ahead with the sponsership. You deserive it. You work hard with trying to make all of us (your readers) happy plus being a full time keeper of your home. One thing I do know is that ultimately the decision is yours to make. I will love to see what will be the finished product.

  • Colleen
    August 1, 2015 at 9:00 pm

    I love reading your words and experiences, but I don’t pay you for them. If taking a sponsored item means you have more to talk about, and I get to read those lovely words, I’m all for it. As you said, it is just another form of income. Who am I to say you don’t derserve that? Go for it!

  • Lori
    August 1, 2015 at 9:11 pm

    I think it’s fair to say that most of us, if given the chance would take advantage of any opportunity to save money or broaden the budget. Whether it be a financial gift from a parent or a sponsored product, why would you turn that down? I wouldn’t read your blog if I didn’t trust you to be honest in your tastes and opinions. How kind of you to ask us what we prefer. But this is your family, your income (yay woman owned business!) so you should take any approach you choose. I can’t wait to follow along!

  • Chris
    August 1, 2015 at 9:15 pm

    I don’t mind the sponsored posts as long as they are identified. Can’t wait to see what the kitchen ends up looking like!

  • Mikki
    August 1, 2015 at 9:39 pm

    I have read your blog for several years. I believe your question misses the point. The readers most want your blog to be GOOD. That is what keeps us coming back- and what has been so frustrating lately for so many readers. Readers appreciate a blog that demonstrates quality process, quality photos (of the entire room please), and quality execution. If your blog content is high quality no one will care if it is sponsored or not. You asked for feedback- here is mine- please stop focusing on the this, and just focus on making your product BETTER. Get your blog back to the previous standard or better. Your readers miss it. Thank you.

  • judy
    August 2, 2015 at 8:23 am

    Did you decide how to proceed? I hope you decide based solely on what is best for you and your lovely family.

  • Tiffanie
    August 2, 2015 at 8:26 am

    Transparency is key. Your home is your home and your business, but first it is your home. Create a kitchen- the best kitchen- you can. Let us know what is made possible because of the sponsors and what you would have done differently on a more modest budget. I love save vs splurge posts. I love seeing beautiful homes that I can aspire too!

    PS: What happened to the Land of Nod bookcases in Eleanor’s old room that the retailer practically copied the decor set up for their catalog? I haven’t spied them anywhere in the Victorian.

  • Allison
    August 2, 2015 at 8:29 am

    I don’t mind when a post (or series of posts) relates to what you do as a blogger or a person. Example: I was already refinishing my floors anyway and Lowes offered to supply me with the drop cloths, tape, etc.

    As others have mentioned, I don’t like the sponsored post comes out of nowhere and is not something you would otherwise mention, like Blue Apron, or those David Bronstad cleaning supplies from last week. Don’t get me wrong, I love Blue Apron and David, but those posts tend to feel forced.

    Just my 2 cents. Thanks for asking!

  • Marissa
    August 2, 2015 at 10:12 am

    When I was in grad school for epidemiology, we learned about a thing phenomenon called “recall bias”. Basically, when something bad happens, people remember it more strongly and are more likely to report it. So, for example, if you’re trying to determine if a drug is bad and you send out a survey, the people who had a bad experience are more likely to remember and respond. Hence, your survey results will be skewed towards the negative because all the people who had positive results didn’t bother to respond. As I read your post today, it struck me that you are experiencing a similar phenomenon. Unhappy readers are more motivated to write a comment, and it may look like everyone is unhappy, but I’m pretty sure that for every unhappy commenter, there are a thousand silent happy readers (like me!). The perception is skewed. You basically surveyed your readers, so just remember that the people who have a bone to pick with someone who produces free lovely inspiring content and dares to support her family by taking advantage of opportunities to provide said free content are FAR MORE LIKELY to comment than those of us who happily read your blog and support your ambitions.

    As for the kitchen, go big! Go big for us and go big for your family!!! That’s what makes this so much fun– seeing the bold, beautiful, unconventional choices you make. I would have never considered that crazy wallpaper you wrote about for your dining room but I think about it all the time now! Go big and make it lovely. Haters gonna hate.

  • Malia
    August 2, 2015 at 10:58 am

    Go for the sponsorships. Sure, some of us may be a bit envious (including me), but you’re transparent about it. And it’s within the scope of your blogging job. I also feel like you’ve got plenty of non-sponsored posts, so it doesn’t feel like an overload, which obviously can be problematic.

    So do it, if it gets you what you need. Your house is so grand, it needs the right work done, and if you can find the way to do it, good for you.

  • Samantha
    August 2, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    To be clear, it’s not sponsored content people object to, but the quality. We pay attention to endorsements because bloggers are showing us interesting things, sponsored or otherwise. You aren’t, so no one wants your advice on how to spend their money. You moved from the “inspire me section” on my reading list a long time ago.

  • Sarah
    August 2, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    I say go for it! Who doesn’t love to not pay for something?

    I think that what people don’t enjoy (including me sometimes) are blogs becoming a full on business. Advertising a ton, becoming too serious, and not being themselves- like hiring out something because you saved some money. Also, as I would imagine, it’s hard to find an incentive to write a post when it’s not payed for. I say the ratio of not-sponsored posts to sponsored posts should be, at least, 2:1. Or else it gets suuuuuuper boring. Like one big commercial. And it’s not personal and inspiring.

    Love what you do, but I agree with a lot of others: enough with Blue Apron and Coffee Mate. It’s just not what the blog is about.

    Hope to help!


  • Ophelie
    August 2, 2015 at 5:38 pm

    Hi Nicole — I hadn’t read the comments to your previous post, but I did notice that the balance of sponsored vs. non-sponsored content has been different for the last six months. I don’t know if it’s an accurate impression, but it seems like most of your posts these days are sponsored, and though they retain your voice and opinions, they have a decidedly different flavour.

    I think it’s awesome that you’ve made it to this point — more power to you! I look forward to your kitchen remodel, whatever products you decide to use. In the meantime, though, would it be at all possible to see more (even shorter!) non-sponsored content on your blog? As a longtime reader (pre-baby E!) I miss it :)

  • EmilyH
    August 2, 2015 at 10:22 pm

    To be honest, I usually skip the posts that are “sponsored by X”. It feel sway to commercial-y, and something about it feels fake. The opinions are certainly your own, but I wonder if you’d feel so passionately about the product (enough to have a blog post dedicated entirely to said product) if it weren’t given to you.

    With regard to the kitchen, I’d prefer to see a balance between sponsored pieces and things you’ve purchased on your own. This is your business, so I think it’s fine to receive some products. But to have it completely provided to you is unrelatable and turns me off to the blog in general. If I want to look at dream kitchens, I’ll look in design magazines. When I look for real inspiration on how to execute a near-dream kitchen on a realistic budget, I look to blogs.

    Ultimately, though, it’s really your decision, and you should do what you’d be happiest with.

  • Lara
    August 3, 2015 at 1:24 am

    Girl, live your dream and do what you need to do to make that happen! Don’t worry about all those haters and then some. Have fun and make your home happy for you and your family!

  • Danielle
    August 3, 2015 at 3:09 am

    A few thoughts…
    1) I think you should create the best kitchen you can. That probably means using sponsorships. Clearly, you will have to live with whatever sponsorship-driven choices you make, so you have a great incentive to pick great sponsors!
    2) I consider your blog one of my inspirational reads, so I don’t mind if your choices are aspirational for me. I would love to see “get the look for less” posts if you go high end in some places.
    3) I generally try to skip your purely sponsored posts. For me it is like fast forwarding though the commercials when I DVR. If there are a lot of sponsored posts, though, I feel there is no actual Nicole show left!
    4) Related to the “actual Nicole show” and sponsorships – I think that one way sponsorships feel totally cool is when they are incorporated naturally into a bigger project. So the kitchen will be perfect. I would guess what happens is that you are not always working on a big-ish project for your house. Maybe a way to get around this is to do some projects for friends’ houses?
    5) My favorite posts are the ones where you shop for something and then later show us what you picked and how it works in the room. Just so you know. :)

  • Emily
    August 3, 2015 at 6:10 am

    You should definitely go with your gut – personally I would take the stuff. I think people are (sadly) super weird about money and you shouldn’t let that bring you down. You should do what makes you happy and be unapologetic. Your home and family need you to be blissful in your work and life / for me, that only happens when I feel like I’m at the wheel. I adore your blog and thank you for it.

  • Liz
    August 3, 2015 at 7:23 am

    Don’t let the jealousy of other people stop you from enjoying the perks of your job. I’ve been following your blog for years, and it looks like you’ve worked extremely hard to get to where you are. If you were to decline the free products, at the end of the day, what would it achieve? The haters are still not going to like you, are still going to complain, and while I’m sure you’d have a beautiful kitchen, it won’t be what it could’ve been.

    Through my job at a college, I am eligible for free tuition. Should I decline it because people who don’t work where I do aren’t given the same opportunity? Of course not.

  • Rebecca
    August 3, 2015 at 11:49 am

    I’m not sure how people who are anti-sponsored posts expect you to make a living. Remodeling a house is expensive. Decorating rooms often enough to maintain an interesting blog is expensive. As long as your reviews of products aren’t for sale I say go for it.

  • cd
    August 3, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    I’d MUCH rather see a fully sponsored kitchen renovation than any more Blue Apron posts (on any blog in the ‘sphere, ever, in my life, please god make it stop) or Coffee Mate posts (because even the partnership between coffeemate and David what’s-his-name make zero sense to me).

    Also, there are sponsored kitchens and there are sponsored kitchens. Are you going to get free stuff that would be in the *range* of what I’d consider using? Or go for the $4.5k specialty sized fridge? I’d probably be less bothered by things that were just on the high end of normal. So, like, not a $1k+ faucet, etc.

    If you are totally open from the start with “This is a partnership between This Store, This Brand, And Me” then I’m happy to read. Much happier than reading another Blue Apron or small trinket-y item post. Just be upfront about costs.

  • Laurie
    August 3, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    I think it is important that you get the kitchen that is best for you. You’ve always done a good job providing content both sponsored and unsponsored so it isn’t off-putting as a reader. You are also really good at being transparent and still providing a lot of value even when it isn’t sponsored. You don’t just write a post that polishes a product.

    When a writer is honest about the product, both what worked and what was a challenge, I think you are still creating the content that will draw an audience.

  • Andrew
    August 3, 2015 at 1:14 pm

    I’m sure this has already been said in the hundreds of comments, but the fun of watching a kitchen renovation of significant magnitude would far surpass any negative feelings I would have about reading a sponsored post. It isn’t as if you are going to allow materials from sponsors you don’t believe in as part of a renovation. I say go for it.

  • Kat
    August 3, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    I agree with others who say it’s not about being sponsored. The sponsorship feels contrived and doesn’t fit. I think the blogosphere is turning a corner. The age of DIY and homegrown designers are coming to an end. I, like you, have remodeled and sold a few homes over the years when this trend became popular. Unlike you, I don’t get free stuff. And the free stuff isn’t the issue, it’s the lack of content in between. You don’t set yourself apart from me, the reader, and in that regard your content is stale and not worth coming back to for inspiration. I think we are finally transitioning back to degreed/professional designers. I look to them for inspiration rather than DIY magazines and blogs because the content is true and forward thinking and they have an education behind them. I think you’ve hit a rut and that’s ok because you aren’t a professional. You’re a woman with a specific taste who had a blog and did well in your market. I just think your market is dying. YHL has impressed me most- huge following, decent design style (nothing too outrageous), produced a few books and realized it wasn’t going to go much further than that. Best of luck to you and your family though! I hope whatever you find after this blog runs its course is a lasting fulfillment.

  • Katie
    August 3, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    I have always favored the side of less sponsors. It gets way out of hand and it’s just gross sometimes. I have always felt you’ve strived for balance, sometime you miss the mark and it’s abundant but for the most part I’ve been ok with the amount of sponsored posts you add, especially recently. You provided the beauty of your blog for many years with nothing given to you. You allow us into your person space daily, not an easy thing to do I’m sure. You have earned the place you are in in the blog world, you’ve worked hard on every single post for years and years. I say go get the kitchen of your dreams and let us in on every step. You could teach your fellow blogger friends a thing or two about balancing sponsor vs fun posts!

  • Nicole
    August 3, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    Long-time (pre children) reader. I read the blog less and less because (1) our styles are diverging a bit which I find interesting as we both had children around the same time and thus you would think they would be converging; and (2) I have very little interest in the non-design sponsored posts. I know you have to eat and feed your family, but the food thing has never been your (blogged about) strength. I’m not clicking over to you to see how you cook. And I’m probably not clicking over to a crafty something that is so obviously an attempt at unrelated sponsorship. So the coffee mate and blue apron – yeah, not coming here for that and it is off-putting.

    That said, I could see a kitchen redo with major sponsorship doing fine w/ transparency and realistic alternatives for all of us truly middle (or even upper middle) class folks. Because that is what the blog was built upon. Stick with what you are good at… making a house a home through good, practical (if in this hypothetical case out of our $$ reach) design.

    • Kelley
      August 7, 2015 at 10:04 am

      I pretty much agree with all of this. I think you had a stronger hold on your identity – and esthetic – before. Now, though you are certainly encouraged and free to evolve – something’s just not the same. How do I say this….I expect Blue Apron from the bloggers who really don’t have more to say. But you’ve always seemed so smart and, frankly, just cool. So I guess I expect more from you than obligatory sponsorships and that kind of content. Thank you for being open, though. This post makes me respect you a zillion times more than most of the other diy/home bloggers on my reading list.

  • Sarah @ 702 Park Project
    August 3, 2015 at 3:52 pm

    I love this honest post. Yours was one of the very first blogs I ever read several years ago, and I still enjoy it so much today! As a blogger, I’ve learned that you really can’t make everyone happy. And you can go a little crazy trying. For me, personally, if the product fits naturally into your content, I don’t really care if it’s sponsored or not. Whether or not the light fixture was free has no bearing on whether or not I like it and the post. I’m sure that you get SO many more sponsorship offers than you actually accept, and I know that you choose those wisely. As for the kitchen, I’d love to see a higher end space. We live in a 1902 American Foursquare and will be tackling the kitchen in a few years, and I’d love to see how you rework yours! :)

    • Christina
      August 17, 2015 at 6:25 pm

      I agree! As long as the kitchen reno fits in with your style and the needs of your family and your house, I don’t even pay attention to whether things are sponsored or not. I do appreciate when bloggers are transparent about sponsored items. I love old houses, want one in the future, and can’t wait to see what you end up doing!

  • Debbie
    August 3, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    I don’t care for the sponsored posts, and quite often when I see that you’ve written a sponsored post, I skim them because I’m either not interested or I don’t quite believe what you have to say since it was sponsored. As far as your kitchen renovation goes, I would prefer to see it done without the aid of sponsorships, but I am sure it will be nice either way.

  • Melanie
    August 3, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    As a mother of young children on a tight budget I look to my favorite blogs for inspiration on how to make our home beautiful without breaking the bank. I prefer to see projects that are attainable and I’ll never be able to swing the look you achieve if supplemented by sponsors. Just my two cents :)

    • kate
      August 7, 2015 at 10:46 pm

      I came here to say pretty much this. I started reading when you were expecting Eleanor, and I LOVED your tone then. Practical, affordable, stylish, and attainable. It felt like it was actually your opinion, and your experiences. You did “style” post then that didn’t include, say, $250 shirts, and talked about getting your baby to sleep through the night. You mixed in IKEA stuff. It was nice to see something semi-realistic.

      I suppose I should admit I don’t read the sponsored posts, or if I do, I read them by accident and then feel rather betrayed when I realize I’m being sold something. I definitely preferred the earlier tone, it felt much more attainable for normal, everyday folks.

  • Tobi Kelly
    August 3, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    I think you work hard for your blog, and you will be true to your taste (something we come here to see), and if someone wants to give you their product, in exchange for writing about it, you are free to take it! Just because a post is “sponsored” does not mean the content isn’t valid, or value information cannot be gleaned. I am always asking my friends, what kind of sink/washer/sofa/sweater/flooring is that? I use those answers to help make decisions regarding what I am in the market for, and that is what you are going to be doing here. I call it smart business.

  • Lydia
    August 3, 2015 at 7:18 pm

    If you are in a position to deck out your kitchen remodel with sponsored goods- go for it! This is the type of sponsorship that makes sense. I could care less about coffee mate or blue apron. Those types of sponsorships do not seem relevant to the type of content that you are known for. And they are especially hard to read when every other blog in my feed is writing the same posts with the same sponsors.
    I want to see how you are transforming your home. I love your sense of style and your interior design skills- that’s why I’ve been reading this blog for 5+ years. I live in an apartment, so any permanent change you make to your home (on a budget or with sponsored bells and whistles) is aspirational to me since I can’t make any changes to my space. If you are able to do more and therefore have more blog content because you have a larger budget… I’m all in!

    • Leslie
      August 20, 2015 at 11:51 am


  • Jenny
    August 3, 2015 at 8:07 pm

    Dear Nicole,

    I really appreciate that you have opened up this discussion. As a reader, it honestly doesn’t matter to me either way. You do what YOU want to do. I’ll be following with interest either way. I like when bloggers are transparent about sponsorship, as you always are, but sponsorship itself does not bother me. No, I can’t get my kitchen renovation sponsored, as I’m not a blogger, but that doesn’t bother me. Blogs are aspirational for me. I may not be able to replicate what you do, but it can give me ideas. I understand that you do this for a living and that sponsorship is a form of income for you, and I respect that. I’m looking forward to seeing what you do!

  • maddie
    August 3, 2015 at 9:51 pm

    I would agree with the sentiment that sponsorship in and of itself doesn’t bother me! If you wanted to buy, say, a Samsung refrigerator, you were going to buy it one way or another… like you said, maybe the only difference is you get a slightly different model. In the grand scheme of things, that doesn’t mean we as readers learn any less from the remodel. It’s a refrigerator, you plug it into the wall and put food in it. You know what I mean? I’ve never left an anti-sponsorship comment I don’t think, I’ve never been outwardly outraged at hem or anything like that. I think the extent of my distaste for sponsored posts is that across all the blogs I read, there are definitely times when I feel like I’m reading word for word the press release the company gives bloggers as far as language and advertising goes. Does that make sense? Honestly, if a sponsored item or post is truly well integrated and makes sense and doesn’t feel forced, I couldn’t care less. If you say “Fireclay provided these gorgeous tiles, they’re handmade in CA, aren’t they stunning?” then cool. If you have to like launch into a spiel about it and make sure you’re hitting all their buzzwords and stuff like that, that sticks out to readers I think. Like Blue Apron, they really don’t bug me. But I know a number of bloggers who work with them and across all the blogs I find the posts repetitive. I’m not sure if there’s a deal as far as how many sponsored posts you’re supposed to have with them? A certain number over a certain time period, something like that, but yeah I could probably do with one or two less of those.

    I guess the key for me is it has to feel authentic, it has to feel like it fits you. And this isn’t fair for me as a stranger to try and tell you what fits you, I realize that, but for the sake of honesty I will share how I feel about it and hope that it’s actually helpful! I feel like before a lot of the sponsored content, I didn’t see much from you in regards to cooking. But hey, who am I to tell you you shouldn’t be blogging about cooking now, or whatever post someone takes an issue with. A comment from another reader, CPeter, on a previous post said “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.” and I think that phrases it about as well as I can.

    I saw some comments on the other posts about readers who just don’t like the style of this home as much as the last, and to them I would like to say suck it, tbh. They can’t tell you what style to blog about it, and if they don’t love it then like that’s their feedback and that’s valid but then they can go read someone that doesn’t evolve and just does the same style forever. It’s fine! Who cares! You’re doing something authentic with the remodel in the Victorian and I think that’s just as interesting. I know that’s neither here nor there in regards to sponsorship but reading some of those comments, it was just the same critique over and over and I’m sure that can’t be nice to read. So consider this an internet hug, in case you ever get discouraged.

    • maddie
      August 3, 2015 at 9:51 pm

      oh god sorry this is so long

  • Pbkmaine
    August 3, 2015 at 10:27 pm

    Actually, I think you should sponsor the heck out of it and do the full Reno you really want to do.

    • Kate K
      August 5, 2015 at 9:37 pm

      Seriously, open up that wall and MOVE THE FRIDGE! Wish I could sponsor it myself! ;-)

  • Tricia
    August 3, 2015 at 11:35 pm

    Thank you for your transparency! I read your blog, because I am interested in your decisions- I thoroughly enjoy what you do with your house and am thankful that you invite us out here into your family home and consequently give up a piece of privacy by doing so. Some posts I might not be so interested in, but I just skip them and enjoy the majority of your blog nevertheless. If a post is sponsored or not is of no importance to me- you deserve to make your home as special and beautiful as possible, with whatever possibilities you have- I am sure everybody would be happy to seize the opportunity to do so. Go full force and show us what else you have in store, I am looking forward to it! GO! GO! GO!

  • Michelle
    August 3, 2015 at 11:44 pm

    Thanks for asking. I’m with the others who say go for it. You’ve always been transparent about your sponsorships, and it’s always clear that your editorial voice is behind everything that’s on your blog. I do surprisingly have a preference for piece-by-piece sponsorships; as another commenter said, it feels more like you’re bringing us along on “the hunt.”

    Also I’m fond of the idea of choosing what you like and then seeking sponsor support. Either that or getting one big sponsor that isn’t a store/brand, like AmEx or something. Mostly because I’m interested in what you would put together when you’re not at all constrained in where you can buy something.

  • Sarah W
    August 4, 2015 at 1:36 am

    I have never been bothered by your sponsored posts. I have always thought that you did them well. I also loved the interview with David Bromstad. I love him! I say get as much free stuff as you can! I feel like that’s one of the perks of being a blogger. :)

  • Aimee
    August 4, 2015 at 3:57 am

    Long time reader from back when you had your card shop and no babies, and your blog has changed as it should to move on with your life. I see no issues with the changes or sponsored posts. You should continue to do you, and anyone who does not love what you are doing should either stop reading or consider getting a life.

    The pressure to be “bigger and better” is crazy; you have three kids- that is bigger and better.

    My happiness/ design choices/ entertainment does not rest on your blog, and I don’t get why readers put these insane expectations on bloggers, which is in part what closed down YHL, in my opinion. The quality and focus of one’s work shifts- consider Van Gogh. His readers would have said “enough with all this blue!”. Input is somewhat important, but don’t let people in your head.

  • Nikki
    August 4, 2015 at 8:56 am

    Do it, Rockapella!!!! Sponsored or not I would love to see a beautiful kitchen!

  • Jane
    August 4, 2015 at 9:54 am

    OMG!!!!!!! I hate that you feel you have to ask us!! You are an amazingly gifted designer and business woman. I know you are trying to do the right thing but just rock it out!! It is no different than any one of us acheiving success through hard work and determination. You have built something unique. Not one us has any right to take away the fruits of your labor and sacrifice. Shame on anyone for saying otherwise. This is a design blog about life, design, etc. It has been ever evolving since the beginning. I think you always do such a nice job navigating the world of sponsorship. If you have grown this blog truly to the point where sponsors want to pay you in goods to reno your home, DO IT!! You deserve it. It makes me feel happy for you and motivated to acheive my own personal success.

  • Cara
    August 4, 2015 at 10:11 am

    I think that you should have the kitchen that you’re happy with. You & your family are going to have to live with it & use it every day. I have no issue with sponsored posts. As long as you do the kitchen how you want it & not according to what free sponsored stuff you’re offered, I say go for it! I sure would!

  • Kimberly
    August 4, 2015 at 11:21 am

    I’ve been reading for a long time. The sponsorships don’t matter. What matters is the decline in the quality of the content you’re putting out and general lack of enthusiasm.

    Is this really what you want to be doing with your life? Because it doesn’t seem like it.

  • jess
    August 4, 2015 at 11:45 am

    I think you should totally go for it! You could always do a high/low comparison with ideas or options for a budget redo. Your hard work has paid off in the form of awesome perks. :)

  • Kathy
    August 4, 2015 at 11:55 am

    This is your house that you are living in. Make the kitchen how you want with whatever it takes. Sponsored posts are okay. If I’m interested, I read it, if not, I scroll on by. The kitchen is the heart of most homes so make it for your family!!!

  • adriana
    August 4, 2015 at 11:56 am

    If you’re a true fan of Making it Lovely, you’ll know that you have fantastic taste and all of your previous renovation work has turned out just beautifully. Why wouldn’t that be the case with a sponsored post? We all trust your judgement and know that you wouldn’t pick some ultra-modern refrigerator that completely clashes with the rest of your home and aesthetic. I say go full sponsor and do you, girl!! We have faith in you!

  • Ami
    August 4, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    I have read your blog for years and really enjoyed it until the past year. The post that really caused me to stop reading was the painters’ tape sponsored post where you painted the inside of the armoire. To me, that was an example of something you would not have done or posted about had it not been sponsored. I would have rather you posted about how you organize the insides of the armoire. The finished product looked so different and odd compared to the rest of your site.

    I don’t mind sponsored posts, but they sometimes feel like a square peg forced into a round hole. If you are posting about blue apron, for example, and use it to explain how it’s great for portion control or getting your kids (or yourself) to eat more veggies, it seems more genuine. I liked your recent post about the chair on the porch (the one from Pier 1). You mentioned always wanting one and imagining yourself sitting in one and rocking a baby. I enjoyed hearing about your thought process in buying it, choosing the one with the cup holder, etc.

  • Kristin
    August 4, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    Absolutely, you should sponsor it! You’ve earned it with all of the hard work you’ve done to get this blog to where it is. And people shouldn’t care how it’s paid for. We come here because you’re a talented home designer. I can’t wait to see what you put together! PLEASE don’t let a few naysayers hold you back.

  • Heather
    August 4, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    While I don’t necessarily mind sponsored posts, I think it depends on how they are done and how well they fit into the blog I’m reading or if I feel like I keep seeing the same sponsor on the same blogs. Can I just say how tired I am of seeing Blue Apron on every blog I read and usually all within a day of each other?? Ish. I appreciate sponsored posts when it’s something I can potentially attain myself. Is it a product that I could afford? Awesome! Is the post well-written and doesn’t sound fake? Even better! I totally get that bloggers need to make a living in some way and I find it hard to believe that most of your readers wouldn’t jump at the chance to get products for free just for reviewing them.

  • gina
    August 4, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    Been a reader since before you had your three littles. I love how your taste and budget has evolved and how it shows in your design choices. If someone offered to buy me a new kitchen, I wouldn’t feel bad about it in the slightest. Do it! With that said, I think it would be nice to see how you could recreate that dream look by pointing out some similar appliances for less. Maybe a budget breakdown of low, mid, and high end looks. I have loved everything you do so have at it! I will still be a reader!

  • Maegan
    August 4, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    Girl, do whatever works for you. I will read no matter what.

  • emma
    August 4, 2015 at 3:38 pm

    Imho I feel decorating bloggers are doing a huge disservice to their readers with all the emphasis on catalog decorating. I throughly dislike it- it discourages uniqueness and encourages cookie cutter sameness. Surprise us, do something original.

  • Gen
    August 4, 2015 at 5:31 pm

    why not really challenge yourself and create a beautiful kitchen on YOUR budget? Whatever that may be. That is the goal for most people right? Making a beautiful space with our individual budgets.
    I don’t know when the Blue Aprons of the world are gonna realize it’s not working.
    It’s your blog but I do miss the little to no sponsored content blogs.

  • Jaclyn
    August 4, 2015 at 7:28 pm

    Woman, get exactly what you want for your house! You have exquisite taste and I’d hate to see that hindered by fear of sponsorships. For me I think it is best to be explicit in what you receive as sponsored items instead of a blanket sponsored statement. It is more credible that way to me. You are doing a great job, thank you for including us in this conversation!

  • carrie
    August 4, 2015 at 9:26 pm

    Like so many other folks have mentioned, I have been reading your blog less and less. I have felt less connected to you, I feel like you do not seem as down to earth as you used to. I wish you well in all of your endeavors and I wouldn’t say a word, but you asked. I would love it if you would use some of those big sponsorship dollars to do good. You live so close to so many folks who live under the poverty level, I am sure that a school or a daycare facility could use some new products and a nice refresher, as a Mother of three young children you have your finger on the pulse of this demographic as it is. The more you give, the more you get.

    • Maria
      August 8, 2015 at 6:47 pm

      I do totally agree.

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  • JB
    August 5, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    OK, be honest: If all 7,000 comments here said “Go with the modest kitchen!” and yet you had sponsors willing to give you free appliances, would you *really* say, “No thanks”?
    Like many have said, I do not care about sponsored posts. I do not read them, I do not trust any of the product praising they contain, and I do not use them to help me consider any purchases. I just want to see you DO something on this blog again. I come here for the design, not to read about ridiculously overpriced delivery meals or the 200 different rugs you’ve bought for the living room (and simultaneously replaced). Please, please, get back to design!

  • Sarah
    August 5, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    I don’t know if i’ve put my two cents in, but i’ve been a reader for a really long time now! and i don’t care at all! of all the blogs i’ve ever read you have integrated sponsorship in one of the most seamless ways. quite frankly, my kitchen will still function just as it is if yours is freed or paid for out of pocket.

    realistically, i want you to have the best kitchen you can have. if you get a free stove? good for you! you’ve put in the work building a brand and should enjoy the fruits of your labor. i think it’s highly inappropriate for me to be jealous of an opportunity you have when i’m not willing to put in the work you did to get there.

    i will, however, be INSANELY jealous when Tesla comes over to offer you a free car in exchange for blogging about it… :)

    • Sarah
      August 5, 2015 at 5:08 pm

      and also, you just had a baby. your third kid. i feel like you deserve a break. there has to be an ebb and flow to life!

  • The Pink Pagoda
    August 6, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    This is an interesting issue. I’ve participated in 6 ORCs and I’ve used sponsorship very minimally. Not that there’s anything wrong with doing so. We’ve worked hard for opportunities, and should feel comfortable accepting them. I only use sponsorship when I truly love an item for my space. I don’t want anything in my house I don’t genuinely love. A happy by-product is that readers aren’t distracted by a disconnect. They’re intelligent people who are quickly able to discern inconsistency. Your kitchen will be amazing, and I’m looking forward to seeing the result!

  • Linda - Calling it Home
    August 6, 2015 at 3:38 pm

    I’m just so excited to read that you follow the One Room Challenge™. On this topic, I know that most readers don’t understand the time commitment involved in photographing and documenting a project. Time away from your family and friends. It is hard work. As my dad would always say, ‘an honest day’s work, for an honest day’s pay”. I turn down most of the sponsorship opportunities I am offered because it isn’t authentic to my home/life. Can’t wait to see your amazing kitchen. Oh, and for the record, all sponsorship opportunities in the ORC are entirely optional.

  • Susannah
    August 6, 2015 at 8:52 pm

    I mean, I do not have your eye, so even if you did your kitchen on a budget there is a 100% chance my house will never look as good as yours. I just like to look at before/beautiful after stuff, so go for it with the sponsorship if it’s going to yield a more beautiful after. BUT. I did achieve a baby as cute as Calvin around the same time, so there’s that.

  • Julia Novoa
    August 9, 2015 at 11:40 am

    This is fascinating commentary. I find it all very interesting and think that while an IRL budget is awesome to see a blogger commit to, I know first hand the travails of DIY and modest. Behind the scenes cost effective can frequently mean bland or held together with duct tape and safety pins (plenty of that in my own home).

    I love sponsored content when it’s uniquely and thoughtfully presented. Creating a distinct viewpoint with sponsored content is some of my fave stuff to read. So… doing your high/low comparisons, showing how your initial 10K stretches when sponsors are involved, all this seems like a great jumping off board for growing in expertise regarding managing sponsored content in general. You teach a college course on this, so your experience is valuable. It’s amazing that you have brought your readers opinions into this and yet there is the notion that you run a business and a brand – managing that responsibly matters. And I like the idea of well crafted, unique, highly intentional content. It could be wonderful!

  • Katie
    August 12, 2015 at 12:27 am

    I respect and understand the need to do sponsored posts. I love your style and still love your ideas. I agree that it would be great to see a mix of more affordable/no-sponsored and sponsored items. And sponsored posts are not my favorite but I’ll still read and enjoy your blog and appreciate it. Thanks for what you do!

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  • Jeanne
    October 11, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    If you need to use the sponsors (and the definition of ‘need’ is YOUR definition, not ours), then use them. It wouldn’t change how I feel about what you do. They only thing I would pass by and not read is something that doesn’t interest me. And that is wholely predicated upon my mood at any given moment. I love seeing renos – major difference before and afters just get me. Yes, because I’d love to be able to do one myself but currently can’t afford it. But I’m not about to sit here being all judge-y about how you go about it. Sponsor away. Knock that reno out of the park.

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