Julia Sweeten is Hooked on Houses, and We are Hooked on Her
Julia Sweeten, better known as the author of the beloved real estate blog, Hooked on Houses, was nice enough to take some time to answer our questions about her love for houses, real estate, and life. Hooked on Houses is easy to fall in love with because unlike most real estate bloggers, she’s not a designer or a realtor, she’s your average wife, mom, and writer who just happens to be madly in love with homes. She’s not a stuck up house snob who will judge you for every design choice you’ve made, the voice she writes in is her own which is an honest one that always shows her love for architecture, design, and real estate.
She’s famous for featuring homes featured in movies, specifically the work of the late Nora Ephron, who is famous for the homes in movies such as It’s Complicated and The Holiday. She also features unique listings that she finds through all different avenues. And lastly, she features impressive and unimpressive renovations. She does a fantastic job and many home lovers, real estate agents, architects and designers look to her blog for inspiration. She’s fabulous!
Through Twitter, we were lucky enough to find Julia and show her one of our favorite listings at 537 Hillside Drive that she later featured in a post. Here’s what she had to say!
What do you do? What’s your background in? Give us a little summary on your life story.
After graduating from college with an English degree, I worked as a freelance writer and editor for various publishing houses. I was writing content for marketing and business textbooks when I started my blog in early 2008.
I always spent a lot of my spare time researching houses, and my friends were getting a little tired of me sending them links and photos, so I figured I’d see if there was anyone else out there who was obsessed with this stuff as I was. Turns out there are–and a lot of them! Now blogging about houses is my full-time gig, and I love it.
I’m married to my college sweetheart Dave and we have two great kids, Jake and Lily. We adopted a sweet little Shih-Tzu named Maizie from a local rescue organization last year who sits at my feet every day while I work on the blog.
What’s your favorite house of all time?
Every day I see more houses I love and could happily live in! It would be nice to have one for every mood and season in life, wouldn’t it? Right now I’m craving a cottage on the beach like the one from Message in a Bottle, probably because I need a vacation!
What is the first house that made you fall in love with homes and real estate? What was the house you grew up in like?
When my parents brought me home from the hospital, it was to a humble single-wide trailer that barely had room for a crib. Later my dad became a Resident Director at a state university and we moved into a boys’ dormitory hall.
So when we moved into a “real house” after my brother was born, it was a big deal for us. It was in an historic gaslight district near the school where my dad worked, and it was my first (house) love.
It was a charming stucco and stone house built in the 1930s with awnings over the windows. We had those big glass doorknobs that looked like diamonds to me. Built-ins everywhere. Hardwood floors. And it was surrounded by beautiful old houses that I loved exploring when kids from the neighborhood invited us over.
Later when we moved to a newer house in the suburbs, I moped for days and made my parents’ lives miserable. I can still remember my mom saying, “But now we have a dishwasher! Two and a half baths! And an attached garage!” Those things didn’t really matter to me at the time, though. Ha.
I commissioned a painting of my first house that sits on my desk. It makes me happy to look at it every day. (You can see it on my About page: http://hookedonhouses.net/about-2/)
How do you get photographs of famous homes?
PR people and real estate agents, mostly. Sometimes I’ll get photos from the actual homeowners, but they’ll say, “Don’t tell them you got these from me!”
What’s the most popular post you’ve ever written
The “Something’s Gotta Give” house, which I wrote back in 2009, has been in the Top 10 every month since then. It’s amazing. People love that house!
Do most people reach out to you and give you content or do you search for it? Where do you find most of your information about the homes you feature?
When I started out I had to search for it. Now I get so many tips and links and photos sent to my inbox every day I can’t possibly post it all! Just keeping up with my email could be a full-time job now.
What about your blog is different than other real estate blogs that has made it so popular?
Good question. I was shocked when it took off as quickly as it did. I thought my mom might be my only reader. After the first two years, I was able to quit my day job and focus on the blog full time. I’m still kind of amazed that so many people keep coming back day after day. Maybe you should ask my readers why they’ve stuck with me so long!
If you could live in any of the houses that you’ve blogged about, what would it be?
One of my all-time favorites is Reese Witherspoon’s Libbey Ranch in Ojai, California. That would have to be at the top of my list. I especially loved how colorful it was when designer Kathryn Ireland lived in it.
Can we see a photograph of your house?
We built it about 9 years ago on a (very) tight budget to get our kids into a better school district. It was a pretty basic house without many upgrades, but we were determined to get into this great family neighborhood. Over the years we have slowly been upgrading things whenever possible–replacing carpet with hardwood floors, adding crown molding and trim, finding ways to give it more character and style. But my to-do list is still several pages long!
I feature a lot of million-dollar, jaw-dropping houses on my blog, so people seem to think I’m living in one myself. Truth is, I lead a pretty simple, low-key life in my own home. I’m a writer, not a decorator, and I’m hopeless when it comes to DIYing anything. I always say my house may not be magazine worthy, but it’s family worthy. It works for us, and we love it here.
I post photos of my house from time to time on my blog. The new sunroom we built last year has been especially popular: http://hookedonhouses.net/2012/07/11/its-summer-in-my-sunroom-come-on-in/
You can also find Julia on:
Check out our other Atlanta real estate blog posts on other Atlanta homes we have for sale and things going on in Atlanta.
Article by: Lindley Knight