Best of 2015

Can you believe it's the last day of 2015?! I'm really looking forward to the new year, but before the ball drops and the confetti is thrown, I wanted to take some time to look back on this year of blogging. 

I've put together a countdown of my most popular blog posts from the last 12 months. Click the photos to read the original posts! Here we go...

10.  How to Furnish Your First Home without going into Debt

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Debt-free living has become a big passion of mine in 2015. Anthony and I are following Dave Ramsey's 7 Financial Baby Steps, which you can read more about here. While we still have a lot of hard work ahead of us to become completely debt-free, I was glad I could share some of our journey through the blog this year. I got some great feedback on this post. Would you guys be interested in reading more about this topic in 2016? Do you have any specific questions about personal finance that you'd like to read more about? I would love to have your input. Comment on this post or email me at stevie@steviestorck.com!

9. The Cabin by the River

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Last January, I shared plans for a small cabin by the Susquehanna that my parents purchased as an investment. In the post above, I gave you all a little tour of what the cabin looked like when they bought it. Next, I shared a detailed post called Making The Best Use of Limited Square Footage, analyzing the problems with the existing floor plan and sharing my ideas for the renovation. I shared one Progress Update, and then....radio silence. To be honest, the cabin today looks a lot like that last progress report. Yes, more work has been done on the mechanical systems, but work to the interior has been on hold. I hope we'll be able to pick back up on this project soon so I'll have some after photos to show you in 2016!

8. Finding Happiness in Transition

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2014 was a very transformative year for me. At the beginning of this year, I shared this post, reflecting on my journey towards happiness and contentment. The main source of my frustration was our temporary living situation that seemed to be stretching on and on. Who knew that just 3 months we would be closing on a home that was even better than we ever could have imagined. 

7. Front Porch Inspiration

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After we moved into our new home, I had a deluge of ideas to share! First on the list was improving our curb appeal. We decided to take the Graphic + Edgy route. So far, Anthony's pressure washed all the siding and I've painted all of the exterior doors but we haven't done much else. Summer turned quickly into Fall with Winter approaching, we decide to hold off on painting the porch floor until this coming Spring. Our plan was to let the snow and ice help us with removing some of the old peeling paint from the floorboards, but we've been having an unseasonably warm winter in PA so far! No snow so far, but we'll see what 2016 brings!

6. 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Decorating on a Budget

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Hands down, my favorite graphic from this year is this infographic I made with the help of my dear, Jamie Barchanowicz! This post was my love letter to all of my clients at the furniture store. These are the things that I tell all of my friends and family members to save them time, money and frustration.

When it comes to discussing your budget with a designer or salesperson, you don't have to be embarrassed, or feel like you have to play games. Everyone has a budget! Being upfront from the beginning with those who are trying to help you will only make the process of getting the room you want that much smoother. If you are starting a new decorating project anytime soon, or if you are remotely thinking of setting foot in a furniture store this weekend, I highly recommend that you read this post! 

5. We're Buying a House!

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Yay! In April of 2015, we became homeowners! In this post, I made the announcement and shared some photos I had taken of the exterior. We LOVE our home and we are excited to continue making it ours in the coming year. There will be projects, galore!

4. Minion Yellow

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Remember that time Pharrell Williams posted a graphic I made announcing Pantone's new Minion Yellow color on his personal Instagram account? Yeah, he didn't give me credit which was kind of a bummer but to date the post has 97,300 likes so that at least is pretty cool. 

3. How to Use Gold Leaf to update Thrift store frame

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This was such a fun DIY project, and it was really simple to do. I love the way the gold leaf brightens and elevates a simple thrift store frame into something special. 

2. Christmas House Tour

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My holiday home tour was a big hit! I loved decorating our home for our first year celebrating Christmas here. I'm glad so many people stopped in for my virtual tour! I look forward to more house tour posts in 2016. 

1. Why I'm Loving White Walls

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I wrote this post while we were still in our apartment, and it actually picked up a lot of steam on Pinterest! In our new home, I've continued my love of white walls, painting the hallway in Sherwin Williams Alabaster--which was then named the color of the year! I plan to use this color in our kitchen and office as well to help keep the first floor feeling bright and open. 

Which is your favorite post from 2015?

Happy New Years, friends! Enjoy your celebrations and be safe! If you are on Snapchat, quick, you NEED to follow @timessquareball. My sister, Frankie is the official host for New Years Eve in Times Square tonight!!!

How To Start A Blog | Choosing A Name

See the first post in my How To Start A Blog Series here: Finding Your Niche

You have a great blog idea. You want to share it, you can't wait to get started! But before you can ever write your first post, you must first decide on a name.

Choosing a blog name can seem pretty daunting. With so many options, how can you be sure that you are choosing the right one? What can you do to ensure that the name you chose now will continue to be a good fit for you as your blog changes and evolves? 

How To Start A Blog | Choosing a Name - Stevie Storck Design Co.

Here are a few considerations that will help you choose the type of name that is best for you.

Privacy versus Self-Promotion

In this day and age, internet privacy is a very really concern. But on the other hand, you probably want your readers to feel like they know you, and to create genuine connections. At the beginning of your blogging journey, you need to decide on your boundaries on sharing personal information (Maybe a good topic for another post?). A lot of this has to do with WHY it is that you are blogging and what you are blogging about. 

Your reasons for blogging probably fall somewhere on this spectrum. On one side, we have people that start a blog purely for the fun of it, or just to create a community around a topic that interests them. On the other side, there are people who start blogs to support their career goals or to promote their product or service based business. Somewhere in the middle, there are people who start a blog with the intention to monetize it and turn their blog INTO their business. Each person has a different priorities when considering the privacy versus self-promotion scale, and this has a profound effect on the blog name that you choose. 

When to Use YOUR Name

In general, I believe it's good to use your own name when you are blogging to get your foot in the door of your dream career. Think of your blog as a supplement to your resume. You want to make sure your personal branding and message are consistent for potential employers. 

I also think it is best to use your own name when you are starting a service-based business, where YOU are the product and the face of your company. Before I relaunched my blog as Stevie Storck Design Co. last fall,  I reached out to my former classmate, Aubri of Allyn Creative. I loved her business name and branding, and I wanted to get her input on the names I was considering.  I was surprised to learn that she wasn't 100% happy with her name choice. Because she was a solo designer living and working in a smaller suburban area, the majority of her clientele and community knew her by her given name, not necessarily by the business name she had created.

Because I was in a similar situation, it made more sense for me to combine my efforts and just be promoting one name, instead of creating a business name to promote and then also getting my community to associate ME with that business name. 

Similarly, if you are blogging to support your service or products-based business, I believe that your blog should definitely share the same name as your business and be fully integrated into your business's main website. Aside from keeping things streamlined, this setup is also ideal because having your main website connected to your blog makes your blog look more reputable and having your blog linked on your main website lets potential customers see into the heart and soul of your business. The Elle & Company website is a fantastic example of this type of integration (and also a great resource for blogging & business tips)!

When to Use a Fictitious Name

There are many reasons why you may choose to create a name instead of using your own. If you are focusing your blog on a certain topic or niche, it certainly makes sense to have a blog name that reflects that topic. Some great example is Measure & Whisk, a blog about real food cooking and A Beautiful Mess, a blog turned company centered around a happy, handmade lifestyle. You want your name to be specific enough that it evokes a certain feeling or image in the mind of your readers, but also broad enough that it can evolve with you, as your blog changes and grows over time. 

Using a fictitious name is also great when you DON'T want to be the spotlight of your blog. Maybe you plan to have multiple people contributing to your blog, or maybe you plan to curate and spotlight other content that you find across the web. Design*Sponge is the perfect example of this.  Having a unique name can help to form a sense of community in a way that using your own name may not. 

Should my domain name and blog title be the same?

In a word, yes. If at all possible, these names should be the same or at least very similar. As you can see, my blog title (the name that is displayed in my blog header) is Stevie Storck Design Co. whereas my domain name (the name people type into their address bar to find me) is simply www.steviestorck.com. As you are coming up with blog name ideas, you should be checking Google to see if that domain name has already been taken, ESPECIALLY if you plan to turn your blog into a business at any point in the future. It just doesn't make sense to spend your time and effort building a brand just to find out later that you'll have to start from scratch because the name you chose was already taken by someone else. 


Whew! If you are still reading this post, THANK YOU. This is a pretty long post, but I still feel like I could talk about this topic for days. Let's keep this conversation going! Tell me by commenting below...

How did you choose your blog name? If you haven't settled on one yet, what names are you considering and why? 

I promise I will respond to every comment and help you in any way I can. If you have questions I didn't cover, ask away! I would love to update and/or expand this post based on the challenges YOU are facing when it comes to getting started with blogging.

How To Start A Blog | Finding Your Niche

Hello friends! I've recently discovered that quite a few of you have dreams and plans to start your very own blog. THAT IS SO COOL!!!!! I  have a few people who have asked for tips with getting started, so I decided to write this post. While I definitely don't claim to be an expert, I have learned a lot since I first started dabbling in the blogosphere five years ago.  My hope is that by sharing my honest experiences and actionable advice, I'll be able to save you from making some of the mistakes that I made! So, if you are considering getting into blogging, this post is for you! 

How to start a blog and how to find your niche in 3 simple steps - Stevie Storck Design Co.

If you are researching how to start a blog, one of the first things you'll start running into is the concept of a blog "niche" . The word niche simply means the place or position of something. In the blogging world, the word niche means the topic (or topics) that you have decided to dedicate your blog to. Some common blog niches are fashion, motherhood, beauty, design, DIY, etc. 

When blogs first started popping up around a decade ago, many popular blogs had very narrowly defined niches that focused solely on one topic. Remember the movie, Julie & Julia with Amy Adams and Meryl Streep?  That movie was based off of the real life Julie Powell's blog, titled "The Julie/Julia Project" where she chronicled her attempt to cook her way through Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

There continue to be many blogs that use this format, focusing one particular topic or chronicling a self-imposed "challenge". While these blogs are great, I find that they are not the best fit for me. Not only can coming up with a big idea to center their blog around can be quite a challenge. (What can you do that hasn't already been done before? Not much) but thinking longterm, what happens to your blog when you complete that challenge and the project is over? What happens if you get burnt out on writing about the same topic week after week? Will you choose another project/topic change your blog name and completely redesign your website? Personally, I think that choosing just one niche feels very 2-dimensional. 

Does this sound like you? 

Well good news, because there is another option. And it's a philosophy that I see more and more bloggers adopting. 

It's not just about sharing what you are doing. It's about sharing who you are. 

The bloggers that I admire the most are bloggers who share their true selves. They have developed a strong lifestyle concept for their blog and brand, but they don't try to fit themselves into any type of box or category. They take the things they care about the most, the hobbies they've had for years and the things that they would be doing whether they were blogging about it or not and share them in a way that is authentic and representative of them as a full person. One great example is Janssen from Everyday Reading, a former librarian who writes about her favorite books, her tried and true recipes and her life as a mother to three (adorable!) little girls. 

So how do you create a cohesive lifestyle blog without choosing just one niche topic to write about? Well, you could do it the way I did and change your mind, blog name, and hosting site every couple of years, or you can skip all that and follow these three steps: 

1. Inventory your interests and hobbies.

Write them down, every single one! Write down new hobbies that you've picked up, but pay special attention to the activities and projects that have proved to be more than just a passing fancy. Think back to when you were 8 years old. What were you doing then that you are still doing today? 

2. Look for commonalities and narrow it down to 2-3 overarching categories.

Start grouping the items on your list together into categories. Maybe scrapbooking and crocheting scarves could become "crafting" or tasting wine and going to food truck festivals could be boiled down to "food & drink". (that one's for you, Kiley!) Or maybe the common thread is that all of your favorite activities are done outdoors! Once everything on your list has been assigned to a category, then try to narrow it down to just 2-3 categories that you want to build your blog around. If you are having trouble keeping it to just 2 or 3, see if any of your remaining categories can be combined into one super category! 

3. How can you tie those three things together? 

Now here's the part that takes a little more thought. How do these seemingly disparate things relate? What is your underlying motivation that keeps you coming back to these 2-3 ideas?

For example, my 3 topics are Interior Design, DIY and (now!) Blogging. Interior Design and Do-it-yourself projects have some level of cohesion especially when we are talking about DIY projects for the home, but blogging could seem like it's just thrown in there because I myself, have a blog. But to me, the concept of DIY is the thing that binds it all together. These last couple of years have been very transformative for me, and something I've become very passionate about is figuring out exactly what my "dream life" looks like and living it. Starting NOW! I've said it before, and I'll say it again, but my mission as an interior designer and blogger is show my readers that no matter where you live or what your budget is, you deserve a home that is soothing to the mind, body and soul. That's a beautiful idea, isn't it? The thing is, no one is going to just drop that on your lap. You have to be active in CREATING the home of your dreams by starting where you are. That's where the DIY aspect comes into play.  

While more people are starting blogs now than ever before, blogging is still a young industry. For a long time it seemed like there weren't any established bloggers out there who were sharing their secrets to success. There are some great bloggers out there who have changed that, like Lauren from Elle & Company and Regina from ByRegina.com.

I want to be an open book for you guys. I may not have it all figured out when it comes to blogging, but the things that I do know, I want to share with you. Not so I can tell you to do exactly what I did (please DON'T do exactly what I did!), but so I can provide you with another set of tools as your carve your own path in the blogging world. So you can do-it-yourself! 

If you have any questions, and I mean ANYTHING about this post or about blogging in general, please comment below or shoot me an email at stevie@steviestorck.com and I promise to respond. If you have been dreaming about starting your own blog, I would love to help in any way that I can!

So tell me, what's your niche? Is it super defined or is a combination of a few categories? 


Liebster Award (x2)

Hello, lovelies! A lot of things have happened in the last month. We made an offer on a house (that was accepted!), Anthony and I both celebrated our birthdays, I was featured in the Lancaster Newspaper, I filed my taxes for the first time as a small business owner (not as bad as I thought it would be!), I was named a "Blogger to Watch in 2015" by Entrepreneur Hub AND I was nominated twice for the Liebster Award!

Liebster Award

Today, I'm answering both sets of questions for my Liebster Award nominations, and I'm nominating 5 more bloggers for the award at the bottom of this post. 

My first nomination came from Katie Diamond of Diamonds are Forever. Katie and I met while competing in the 2012 PA State Fair Queen Contest and have kept in touch through Facebook and Pinterest. I am so excited that Katie's started her own blog!

Thanks for the nomination, Katie!

1. How did you get into blogging? I started blogging in 2011, when Anthony and I had just moved into our first apartment. I started my blog mostly for myself, as a way to document the DIY and craft projects I was doing at the time. Since then, my blog has definitely evolved, changing domain names a couple of times before I launched Stevie Storck Design Co. in Fall of 2014.

2. What can people expect to see on your blog? The primary focus of my blog centers on my work as an Interior Designer. My goal is to show readers that no matter what their budget is, good interior design is within their reach. My husband, Anthony and I are closing on our first house next week, so moving forward, I’m excited to share all of the home improvement and decorating projects we plan to take on! In addition to posts about Interior Design & DIY Projects, I also write about Blogging and what I’ve learned over the past 4 years of trial-and-error. My friends and family will tell you that I’m kind of a blogging evangelist, so if you are thinking about starting a blog and have questions, I’d love to help!

3. What is your proudest accomplishment? Ever since I was a kid, I said that I wanted to become a homeowner by age 25. As an Interior Designer, the concept of “home” is at the forefront of my daily life, and over the last 2 years, Anthony and I have worked hard to make this dream a reality. When we close on our house next week with both of us just a few weeks over 24, I think that will be my proudest accomplishment to date.

4. What do you do to treat yourself? I love buying fresh flowers at the grocery store. Something about having fresh blooms in our apartment just makes me feel happy and relaxed. If you combine fresh flowers with a cup of tea I can enjoy without any distractions or to-do lists, I’m in heaven!

5. Who is your favorite celebrity? Oh lord, I’m actually pretty into following celebrities. I don’t care so much about their movies or careers, I mostly just pay attention when they get married and have children. What can I say? I love to look at pretty dresses and cute little babies. That being said, my favorite celebrity at the moment is someone who’s career I actually am interested in but who also had a gorgeous wedding and is a mom to two adorable children. That would be Ivanka Trump! She is so inspiring as a modern professional woman, wife and mother. You should definitely check out her new website!

6. What would you do with 1 million dollars? Up until this year, I probably would have given a much more fun answer but honestly, I would pay off our student loans and mortgage, renovate the kitchen and bathrooms in our new house, set up education funds for our future children, purchase and renovate an investment property or two, donate some to charity and save the rest for retirement. I know, how boring and adult of me.

7. What is your favorite item in your closet? I love the black leather jacket I bought in Berlin. It wasn’t terribly expensive or anything (it’s faux leather), but it’s a classic piece that reminds me of my trip to Germany every time I wear it.

8. What would be your dream vacation? I would love to take Anthony back to Germany with me, since it’s where the Storck family is from. Actually, my dream vacation would probably be if Anthony and I starred on a joint episode of Who Do You Think You Are? and we got to explore Europe while learning about our family histories.

9. What’s something you’re embarrassed to admit you are addicted to? Well, I already admitted to following celebrity weddings and babies so I may as well admit that I keep up with the Kardashians as well! Say what you want about the show (I’ll probably agree with you!) but I still like to watch it.

10. What are your plans for the future? That’s a big question! I have so many goals and plans for the future but if I learned one thing over the past couple of years, it’s that things change! It’s good to be a planner, but you also have to be flexible so you can roll with whatever life has in store for you.  

11. Describe your dream job. I have my dream job! I’ve wanted to be an Interior Designer since I was at least 15 or 16. It’s awesome that almost ten years later, I’m doing it!


My second nomination came from Emily Cassel, my life coach and Chatham sister. Over the last year, Emily has become such a great friend and supporter for my goals in life and business. She is one inspirational lady! You have to check out her blog

Thanks so much for the nomination, Emily!

1. What is your favorite place you’ve ever visited in the world & why? When I was in Germany, we took a day trip to Potsdam and toured some beautiful historic homes and gardens. My favorite place was Schloss Cecilienhof, which was actually where the Potsdam Conference in WWII took place. It was a gorgeous Tudor Mansion set on several acres by the Jungfernsee. Maybe it's because I wrote my undergraduate tutorial on Tudor architecture, or the fact that my Gram and Pop always called me Cecil, but I just felt totally electric there. 

Stevie Storck at Schloss Cecilienhof in Potsdam, Germany

2. Who is the most inspiring person in your life right now? I am really inspired by my younger sister, Frankie. She recently moved to New York City and has been doing some pretty amazing things. She worked on the publicity for Lena Dunham’s new documentary, is freelancing with a start-up based in Tel Aviv and last night, she ran the official Snapchat account for the Shorty Awards! Here's a shot of her with Nev from MTV's Catfish:

1601449_10153321694374319_2658905960569729462_n.jpg

Also, you should definitely follow Frankie on all them social medias. Especially YouTube ("The Birthday Present" is about me!). She's hilarious! 

3. If you could choose only 3 foods to subsist on for the rest of your life, what would they be? Crab cakes, Mozzarella Cheese and Dark Chocolate.

4. What is your dream career? If you already have your dream career, what’s your alternate dream career? I’ve got my dream career! But I’ve always said that as a retirement career, I would like to buy and renovate a historic farm and turn it into a wedding venue.

5. What’s your favorite/most-played song at the moment? “Riptide” by Vance Joy

6. What do you purely because it brings you joy? Sing! I was big into choir in high school and I even considered a career as a music teacher. I currently sing with the York Symphony Chorus.

If you're in the York area, come see us perform "The Creation" on Saturday, May 9th!

7. If you could choose one responsibility in your career or life to eliminate, what would it be and why?  STUDENT LOAN PAYMENTS! haha, really Anthony and I don't have it that bad. It's not like we went to medical school and have 100's of thousands in student loan debt. But still, a little bit of me dies every month when we pay our bills. 

8. If you could choose one super power, what would it be and how would you use it? I wish I could apparate like Harry Potter. It would make traveling so much more manageable with a busy schedule!

9. What’s your favorite room in your house? In our new house, I think it’s going to be our master bedroom. It’s not the largest bedroom in the house but it has two closets and a little balcony right off of it. I can’t wait to decorate it!

10. Post your favorite photo of yourself and tell us the backstory. Do you remember what you were thinking, doing, or experiencing that day? I love this photo from our wedding. We snuck away with Savannah during the reception to take a few portraits in the field in front of my parents house. I just remember feeling so happy! It was nice to sneak away for a moment and just relish in the amazingness that was that day.

Storck Wedding - Savannah Smith Photography

11. What’s your go-to order at a coffee shop? Honestly, I usually order just a small black coffee with one sugar. Sometimes I’ll mix it up and go with a Chai Latte.


I NOMINATE...

Kim of Kimberly Lynn Fit

Gabrielle of GABBYELLOW

Landen of Measure & Whisk

Lauren of LB Designs

Shannon of Much.Most.Darling

TO ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS:

1. What/who inspired you to start your blog?

2. What topics do you love to write about most?

3. Who should read your blog and why?

4. What's one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?

5. If you could snap your fingers and be anywhere in the world right now, where would you want to be?

6. What's your favorite room in your house?

7. Do you have a celebrity doppelganger?

8. Which of your blog posts are you most proud of? Tell us why and share the link!

9. What does your perfect day look like?

10. If you could only listen to one band or artist for the next 10 years, who would you chose?

11. What's your favorite social media platform? Which one have you never really gotten into?