Who is Lars?
Brittany Jepsen here. I started The House That Lars Built in 2008 and 12 years later, the number one question I still get is Who is Lars?
And it’s a totally fair question! The name is quirky (like me!) with a lot of layers. Sit back and get comfy because there are a lot of layers. Let’s go!
In a nutshell, Lars is my dad.
Well, his real name is Bob, but his alias growing up was Lars (after a character in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, not because of any Scandinavian roots). I know, I know…lots of layers. At restaurants, he would put his name in as Lars and us kids would get a chuckle when “Lars, table for 6” would be called.
I originally started Lars as a project for graduate school. I studied interior design and was tasked with the assignment to design a house. Dreamy, right? I created a fictitious family to live inside the house and called the dad Lars after my own dad. The name The House That Lars Built just kind of flowed out from there (of course, referencing the classic children’s nursery rhyme, The House That Jack Built and NOT the psychological thriller by Lars Von Trier, whose name is unfortunate in multiple ways because I’ve been receiving Google Alerts about the movie for years!)
ANYWHO, each member of the family in my house represented a different aspect of the arts so I designed a room that catered to each one. Lars represented fashion so I designed him a studio to create his designs, the mom, Imogen, represented fine arts so I designed her a painter’s studio, the son, Abraham, represented music so I designed a spot for performances and recording. The daughter, April, represented crafting. And I guess you could say that was a foreshadowing because I didn’t do much crafting at the time!
Remember, this was 2008 when blogs weren’t much of a thing. And getting paid to blog definitely wasn’t. I had first heard about design blogs during an internship in New York with Jonathan Adler and I thought it sounded a lot cooler than the mommy blogs that I had only known about (mommying was not on my radar at the time!). So I created a blog to go with the house so that my fictitious clients could see the progress I was making. I included things like the inspiration for the house, floor plans, furniture selections, etc. I took all the posts off a few years ago so sadly you can’t see it (digital storage is always an issue!).
After that semester (I got an A!), I used my new blog as a portfolio for school purposes and included all the stuff I was working on. I even used it the following year when I did a semester in Copenhagen studying textile design. All of a sudden, calling my blog, Lars was starting to make more sense! That same semester I interned for Design*Sponge, where I interviewed artists and designers in Scandinavia and photographed their spaces. It was a great opportunity to get inside the homes and studios of some of my favorite creative heroes. It also was a great opportunity to learn how blogs worked and see the excitement that comes from a community who loves similar things. Some of my nearest and dearest friends to this day came from that experience.
Which leads me to my next layer. For my graduate thesis, I studied the effect that blogs were having on print. At this point, 2009, all of my VERY favorite magazines were folding and I wanted to know why. So I created a thesis called, Write My Thesis, where I crowdsourced my thesis from industry experts and learned that yes, digital was impacting print. I then started an online magazine called Baker Street, once again photographing artists and designers in their spaces.
Are you still with me? We’re getting there!
While in Copenhagen, I met Paul Jepsen and we got married the next year. I moved to Denmark and because I couldn’t work in the country for quite a long time, I had a LOT of free time. I rode my bike everywhere and got to know the area VERY well. I was aware that free time like that didn’t happen very often in an adult’s life, so I treated it as an opportunity to work on Lars, who now had a name native to his country. I treated it as if it was my job. And you know what? It soon did!
My wedding was the first event to really make a splash. My mom, sister and I made some huge paper flowers for it, from the centerpieces to my bouquet. Soon I was getting asked to do DIYs from the wedding and they were featured on various wedding sites. Then Pinterest came out and the tutorials were getting pinned left and right.
Thereafter, I contributed crafts and tutorials to Oh Happy Day and Brooklyn Bride, the Etsy blog and more and realized that people were into crafting. All my childhood interests started to poke their heads in and say “remember me?” Yes, I see you pipe cleaners, I’m going to do something fun with you!
We moved back to the states in 2013 and things started to take off. I was crafting up a storm in my apartment and writing for other websites while Lars continued to grow too. After awhile I hired my first employee. Then in 2015, I got a business partner in Mary Nielson, who came out from Boston and used her business and finance experience to take on all the parts of a business that I was 1) not good at and 2) not interested in. In 2020, Mary will be moving on, but her legacy will remain. She’s been absolutely essentially in turning Lars into a healthy, thriving company.
The House That Lars Built has morphed over the years from a single student blog into a full-fledged creative services studio with a full team dedicated to showing you, our dear makers community, how to make life artful. Whether it’s through a tutorial, or a resource guide, tried and true tips and tricks, and now our latest focus, our shop, we are on a mission to show you that life is better (and healthier!) when you have a project to work on. Our aim is to land on beautiful ideas that we think are worth your time and money. Because life is more fulfilling when it’s thoughtfully designed.