Skip to content
A Journey to Fatherhood

A Journey to Fatherhood

by Sarah Persitz

An intimate interview with home renovator duo The Property Lovers on their first official Father’s Day

It’s hard not to fall in love with PJ and Thomas, also known as The Property Lovers, with their infectious smiles and Southern charm. From home renovation and interior design to publicly sharing their journey to fatherhood as a gay couple living in a small town in Tennessee, this couple is an endless source of inspiration, laugh out loud moments and practical home advice.

Photos from @pjandthomas

Shop PJ & Thomas's Father's Day Collection

Growing up in Tennessee surrounded by close knit families, both PJ and Thomas knew they wanted to have a family of their own, so much so that it was a point of conversation within a month of dating. “We’ve always been super close to our families and loved the idea of having a big family of our own one day. It was just something that was always there, a conversation we were always having,” shared Thomas.

Photos from @pjandthomas

Shop PJ & Thomas's Father's Day Collection

The two started dating in 2010, with Thomas coming out to his family and friends a month and a half later. Sharing about the experience of building their lives as two gay men and starting a family in the South, Thomas shared, “I think we were both hesitant in the way we would be received. We grew up in this town so we know how it can be, but we have been pleasantly surprised by the reaction from our town. We’ve received no backlash (yet) and have been treated with nothing but acceptance and respect, something we weren’t anticipating but are so grateful for.”

Photos from @pjandthomas

Shop PJ & Thomas's Father's Day Collection

When they met, PJ, who has a degree in Construction Management, was already renovating houses. As Thomas shared, “It’s a passion for him, one that’s been a constant in his life for over a decade.” What started out as PJ’s passion became a central theme in the interwoven mosaic of their lives as together they’re now known for their adventures in home renovation and interior design, especially after having their own show, Down to the Studs, on HGTV.

Photos from @pjandthomas

Shop PJ & Thomas's Father's Day Collection

Describing their design ethos, Thomas said “How a space looks should first and foremost be determined by how you want to feel in it. We always want to feel cozy and welcomed in our home, so we go for layers and art and pieces that give us that feeling.” Sharing the most exciting part of the design process, he said, “It’s the in-between, the almost-there, the possibility of what it could be and is going to be that is so exciting, almost more than the finished product.”

Photos from @pjandthomas

Shop PJ & Thomas's Father's Day Collection

This beautiful approach to the creative process feels similar to their approach to life and family, as they’re able to stay open to what’s possible within the unknown. When they decided it was time to start a family, the decision was the easy part; the how was a bit trickier. After exploring options for adoptions and surrogacy, they decided to wait and instead sign up to be foster parents in 2019. Just days after finishing the preparatory course, they were asked if they would take three young children into their home. Within 48 hours they went from a house with no kids to three under the age of five, welcoming three siblings from an emergency foster situation.

Photos from @pjandthomas

Shop PJ & Thomas's Father's Day Collection

“It was the biggest change of our lives. No matter how many people we talked to or stories we heard or classes we took, nothing could really prepare us for parenthood. Everything changed. We were no longer living for just the two of us, but for three kids that we didn’t even know existed a week before. We were sleeping in different beds for the first month because one of us had to sleep with our daughter and one had to sleep upstairs with our boys to make sure they slept through the night and weren’t scared. The first few weeks were rough, but once we established a rhythm and routine, things began to fall into place. Was it easy? Definitely not, but it started to feel normal and then it just became our life.”

Photos from @pjandthomas

Shop PJ & Thomas's Father's Day Collection

With this new chapter of life unfolding, PJ and Thomas have gone through an evolution of learning and adapting in multiple domains. Asked how the journey to fatherhood has shaped their design, they shared, “It’s changed how we think about what we put in our houses now. It’s been especially fun the last few years with the kids and mixing functionality and beautiful design. We’ve had to get creative and now, if it doesn’t serve a purpose in our house, it has to go. So we’ve kind of blended items that look good with those that have an actual purpose.

Photos from @pjandthomas

Shop PJ & Thomas's Father's Day Collection

As we’re entering our third year of parenthood, we’re realizing it’s all connected: family and design and renovation and being dads and raising kids. All of it takes love and time and attention, and all of it is a learn as you go process. For us, we start with our kids and everything else kind of trickles down through that. It’s all part of life and we’re happy to be on the ride.”

Photos from @pjandthomas

Shop PJ & Thomas's Father's Day Collection

In 2021 PJ and Thomas made the formal step to move from foster parents to adoptive parents, solidifying the long standing feeling of being a family, making this Father’s Day a special milestone in their journey to fatherhood.

“We’ve felt like a family for years, well before the adoption took place, but something about this year definitely feels different. Somehow it’s more special, even though it’s just a day, but I know I grew up without a father in the home, so we never really celebrated Father’s Day in the traditional sense. It feels good to be able to now celebrate each other and how far we’ve come as parents and as people,” said Thomas. In celebrating this Father’s Day, they chose gifts for each other from The Nopo, selecting artisan made pieces in line with their design ethos - beauty meets functionality.

Shop PJ & Thomas's Father's Day Collection

“The thing we love about The Nopo is that all of the items are handmade by real, talented artisans from all over. PJ doesn’t like gifts, he never really has, except handmade ones. That is his one exception, so the fact that all of the items from The Nopo are handmade with love and care makes them that much more special. Each and every one feels like they’re made especially for you and only you,” said Thomas.

 

Photos from @pjandthomas

Shop PJ & Thomas's Father's Day Collection

As they proceed in sharing their story with the world, they continue to educate and inspire through their authenticity and the ways they’ve chosen to stay true to who they are and where they come from. “Sometimes you have to move away to start a family, sometimes you don’t have to go anywhere. It was important for us to stay in our small southern town to raise a family in order to be close to ours, but also, how can we expect anything to ever change in these small towns if people move away from them? Sometimes just being here and being visible is enough to open people’s minds up to different possibilities.”

Photos from @pjandthomas

Shop PJ & Thomas's Father's Day Collection

We were so honored to have the opportunity to interview these two ahead of Father’s Day and to share in this momentous occasion as they mark their first Father’s Day as adoptive parents! PJ and Thomas are truly inspirational, not only because of their renovation and design prowess, or their beautiful story of becoming a family, but because they live their lives authentically, inspiring others to do the same by opening themselves to the world through their blog and active Instagram accounts. You can shop their specially curated Nopo collection of artisan-made Father’s Day gifts here.

Previous article Building a Global Marketplace During a Worldwide Pandemic
Next article For the Love of Oaxaca