Tell FLL readers a bit about yourselves and The Surznick Common Room.
Sarah: Hi, we’re Sarah and Nick, co-creators and co-authors of The Surznick Common Room blog! I was born and raised in Lancaster (HHS ’07!) and attended college at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. That’s where I met Nick, a native of St. Marys, PA (home of Straub Beer.) We moved to Pittsburgh, PA three years ago and just purchased our first home together. By day I work in Human Resources for Pittsburgh Public Schools and Nick is a music teacher at a Montessori School.
We started our blog, The Surznick Common Room, shortly after moving to Pittsburgh. This is where we share DIY projects, delicious recipes, budget-friendly fashion, travel diaries, and more. The blog has grown and changed a lot since it’s inception and we’re so excited to begin sharing the renovation and decoration of our new home.
What made you get into blogging?
Nick: Sarah has always been a really creative, resourceful, and thrifty person. Just because we were newly graduated from college and didn’t have much money didn’t mean that we didn’t want to surround ourselves with beautiful and unique décor, art, clothing, crafts, and the like. A steady stream of DIY-ing, and social media sharing quickly turned into our friends egging us on to start a blog. Enough people seemed to show an interest, so we took the plunge. We’ve never looked back, and have been blogging steadily ever since!
What have been some of the benefits and challenges of blogging as a couple?
S: Having another thought partner to bounce ideas off of and always having a photographer are some of the biggest benefits. It can be very difficult to photograph a step-by-step project tutorial by yourself! I think the biggest challenge is that our “free-time” is really “blog-time.” Since we both work full-time jobs, most of our free-time together is spent working on our blog. It can be hard to find that blog/life balance.
N: I absolutely agree with the blog/life balance. That can be tough. Sarah and I can either be each other’s best motivator, or biggest “laziness enabler.”
What has been the #1 coolest thing that’s happened to you so far because of the blog?
S: I think for me it was the first time we were featured in a BuzzFeed post. The morning I checked our blog traffic and saw thousands of views from BuzzFeed, I was elated. That gave our blog a lot more visibility and I felt really proud and excited to be publishing work that other people loved enough to share!
N: For me, the coolest thing might have been writing a guest post for the Home Depot blog. We spend an awful lot of time there, and for that store to recognize some of our very hard work is extremely rewarding.
What has been your all-time favorite blog post/project?
N: This is very difficult for me. We’ve shared so many posts that I am so proud of, and choosing just one seems impossible. Though we cover a wide range of topics on the blog, I often feel most proud of some of our recipes. Food photography is definitely the most fun subject area for me, and so I love experimenting, and creating beautiful shots with food. So if I had to pick, I’d say our Vegan Caprese Sandwich. It can be tough to make up your own recipes, and when it lands just right, it is so rewarding. This sandwich is a prime example.
Which blog post/project has been the toughest?
S: We turned an old book into a clutch/purse. It was certainly the hardest project to explain in a tutorial on our blog (I pretty much gave up and let the photos speak for themselves.) The process involved Nick cutting through 200+ book pages with an Xacto knife very carefully, gluing pages together, inserting a clasp, and overall trying to make it look polished and well done. In the end it turned out pretty cute and is still one of our most popular posts, but it was a time-consuming and tricky road to get there.
What is your best party tip?
S: Have an awesome backdrop for photos! We started creating a makeshift photobooth at every party we throw and it’s always been the highlight of the night. We set up a small point-and-shoot camera on a tripod and let our friends have fun with it. I love flipping through the photos the next morning and sending them out to everyone.
N: It’s all about the music. If you have an excellent playlist and some good drinks, you’ll have a great party.
What is your best home decorating tip?
S: Fill your home with things that you love or that mean something to you. Not everything will look straight out of a magazine, but if you love it, that’s all that matters. Some of the pieces I love most in our home are a 1900s typewriter Nick and I found in my grandparent’s basement and a 9-foot wooden ladder that was put out for trash by the house next door. Neither item is in great shape or very aesthetically pleasing, but I love them so much and can’t imagine parting with either.
What is your best cooking/baking/bartending tip?
N: Cooking can be really challenging, and if you get too caught up in the details of your recipe, it’s hard to have fun. Make sure you have some good tunes going, and just enjoy it. For bartending, I’d say that it’s okay to buy cheap liquor. Stocking a home bar is expensive! Make sure you have a wide range of liquors and mixers to work with, get creative with the flavors in your drinks, and no one will know the difference!
Find Sarah and Nick’s next project at thesurznickcommonroom.com.