Editor’s Letter: January 2013

The word home has a lot of meanings. The dictionary defines it as “a place of residence or refuge,” but over the years I’ve learned that a home can be anything you want it to be. A place to be inspired. A place to unplug. A place to experiment with pattern and color or a place to revel in the calmness of minimalism. At the end of the day, I’ve found that while style plays a part in defining a home, its importance pales in comparison to the people and living things inside. Our tastes, interests and passions may grow and change over the years, but the people who make up our families — both given and chosen — are what turn any space into a home.

This year, I decided to reevaluate what home means to me. For years I spent every waking moment of my life working to build the perfect home. My personal and work life blended into one continuous search for something that felt finished, flawless — perfect. That word was such a huge part of my vocabulary that it became a tether holding me back from trying new things, making mistakes and growing. Letting go of it has been, and continues to be, a difficult process. Every time I pick up a magazine or sit down in front of a TV show, I want to apply that same level of polish and shine to my life and my work. But then it always hits me — that perfect world isn’t real. And it certainly doesn’t look like my home or the homes of my friends. But my friends’ and family’s homes have something those places don’t. They have warmth and character and quirks and flaws, all of the things that make you feel truly welcome and at ease. And that was the feeling I should have been searching for, trying to build. So today I’m starting that search again. Not with the aim of building a perfect home but with the desire to create a space that feels welcoming, warm and authentic.

I want to start the first post of this brand new year by focusing on a new definition of home, one that is defined as a space or social unit formed by a family living together. The people I work with here at Design*Sponge have become my family. And those of you reading have become part of this constantly evolving family of people who have a united goal: to create homes that reflect who we are and welcome the people we love.

The door in the photo above is the entrance to our office in Brooklyn. Our space is always unfinished, constantly changing and covered in layers of paint, glitter or sawdust — in a word, imperfect. But right now, it is the place I feel most at home. It’s not perfect, but it’s us. It’s me. It’s Amy. It’s Kate, Max, Aaron, Kristina, Anne, Caitlin, Felice, Ashley, Stephanie, Erica, Ginny and so many other people that I’ve been privileged to work with over the years. But most importantly, it’s also you.

Some of you have been reading this blog since day one, and you’ve grown just as much as — and along with — us over the years. I want you to truly know that all of you have a home here with us. Our Design*Sponge family is tight-knit, caring and loyal, and we are united in our endless devotion to a single mission: to inspire, support and celebrate the people that make up the creative community. And we feel honored that we have another year to work on that mission together.

Thank you for joining all of us here this morning and every morning. We have so many exciting projects to share with you, and I can’t wait to get started. So let’s dive in; it’s going to be an amazing year.

Love, Grace

  1. Mr. Glitter says:

    Well said, and thank you so much for sharing. I have the same issues with perfection holding me back.

    It’s an enormous relief to me that such a powerful voice in the home design community (D*S) is acknowledging/embracing a more achievable version of reality. I’ve been thinking a lot about my own environment lately and how “things” really don’t make me happy. Creating things I find beautiful does make me happy and fulfilled and my only goal for 2013 is to keep challenging myself creatively.

    That said, I find Design*Sponge incredibly inspiring. It’s my first stop almost every morning, and I look forward to coming back several times a day.

    Thank You Design*Sponge Team for continuously producing great content!

  2. Chedva says:

    What an amazing way to start 2013. You rock.

  3. ri gal says:

    That was beautiful. I just got off the phone with my friend, talking about homes and design, wondering if what I love about design and paper and frames was shallow; she ended up convincing me that what I love was fine and that it made others happy, and I visit D*S, and there’s this post.
    I love this, and the warmth you create and makes me associate with design.
    Thank you Grace for inspiring me, yet again. :)

  4. ri gal says:

    And I wish you and everybody else who make up D*S all the best for a fantabulous future! May this year bring happiness and contentment to you all! :)

  5. Jackie Rice says:

    I share in your enthusiasm for the new year and thank you for starting it off with this wise post.

  6. Jenni Bailey says:

    I have been reading D*S for a loong time and I have to say that this is probably one of my favorite posts ever on the blog. I’m in the process of remodeling a home (which I haven’t even lived in yet) and I am struggling daily with the urge to make everything “perfect” and the reality of budget and practicality. In the end authenticity, warmth and comfort DO outweigh any design aspiration and I’m so happy to hear it from such a beautiful place as this. :)

  7. Jordan K says:

    Grace this is an amazing post! My husband and I purchased our home in March of last year and spent 3 months renovating it. We were constantly striving for perfection, but as time went on (and we were never achieving the “perfect” this or that) we begun to realize that the things we weren’t happy with were the things that gave our home the character it has. In a way, our home is perfect to us being flawed. It’s ours and is full of love and things we love. Happy New Year to D*S!

  8. stacia says:

    YES!. this is similar to my feelings about seeing more real bodies in fashion magazines. Just like I would like to see more “imperfect” bodies, I also would like to see tooth brushes on the counter in the bathrooms of house tours. Because that’s how people live. And it’s totally un-hygienic to keep your tooth brush in a drawer. So, while I expect people to clean and tidy up so the pictures will be nice, I want to see how people balance good design and how they live. You can have a beautiful modern utensil holder on the kitchen counter, but if it only holds one spatula and a whisk, then it’s totally impractical. Here’s to balance and good design in the New Year.

  9. Thank you so much for sharing! As someone who is a perpetual renter, I am constantly saying “when I get a house, I want to do x, y, and z” – so I never truly feel at “home.” This post just gave me some motivation to do the best with what I have! Happy new year!

  10. caitlin kelch says:

    I absolutely love this (as I stare at the dust bunnies under my desk & smile at them)!

  11. Becca says:

    I have been reading your blog since the very beginning and truly enjoy seeing how it has grown. I think this search for a home that is authentic, warm, and imperfect, is a great thing to strive for.

  12. Beautifully put Grace.

    I believe a lot of media outlets will consider removing the veil to embrace what’s real this year. Being away on vacation and watching an entire season of GIRLS, back to back, in addition to reading Mindy Kaling’s book made me realize we’re in a new era that’s a distinct contrast to the aspirational days of the past decade.

    This letter honoring David Rakoff from the Sunday NYTimes really sums it up (for me at least): 1) Don’t trade up 2) It’s better to be kind than to be witty and cunning and 3) Be grateful and humble and mean it.

    Here’s the link: http://nyti.ms/X0CcJD

    Happy New Year!

    xo Shayna

  13. Carly says:

    This was a great reminder to me that something is a “home” as long as you love it and fill it with good things. Design for me is a hobby, not my career, and it’s a real blessing when I have time to dedicate to my projects and ideas. But when I do end up sitting down and working on a project, it’s so easy to think that it won’t ever be appreciated, and I’d be better to do something else. Then, I’ll do my regular moseying on D*S and feel like it’s worth something because it’s important to me. Thanks for the wonderful post Grace, and Happy New Year to the team!

  14. Catherine Slye says:

    Well said. <3 Happy New Year D*S, it's going to be a good one!

  15. “Home is wherever you are” someone once said…
    Whatever you believe it to be; dust and imperfections, sparkles and glitter, piles of papers and projects not yet born….

    My Mom is an interior designer so her home while designery and polished- it is nothing like mine. She always has to preface that mine is the home of an artist…. “all artsy” and full of quirky treasures and odd finds….But what they both share is a lifetime of love and memories.

    I wish you all at d*s a year of making more memories and I thank you for the ones you’ve provided for me.

  16. Ilene says:

    I couldn’t agree more! Sometimes it’s hard to appreciate what we have when we are constantly doing a to do list in our head and not living in the moment. I think maybe my house will be perfect when my kids are grown and gone but then will it really be a home without them. Here’s to imperfection and messes! Happy 2013!

  17. Katy Gilmore says:

    Your description of your family at D*S reminds me so much of those movies I love that seem to end with the “cobbled together” family sitting around a rickety table under trees sharing a meal – a “perfect” family. All the best to you and your family in this new year, and thank you for the daily inspiration and reminder of the world’s creative possibilities!

  18. Chris says:

    Everytime I see a “perfect” room and start measuring my house to it I remind my self it’s the personal things that make it OURS, imperfect and all.

  19. JillBetty says:

    What a beautiful reminder to appreciate what we already have. May 2013 bring all the peace and joy you hope to find, as well as more of the beauty and inspiration you have already provided.

  20. What a superb way to start 2013. Home has expanded to mean the space that makes you feel rested, refreshed and recharged. For me, that includes the material and the figurative. I am grateful that Design Sponge has become one vibrant strand in the fabric of my home.

  21. Susan says:

    How sweet and poignant…wishing you a prosperous + inspirational 2013!

  22. Karly K says:

    Thank you Grace, for a heartwarming welcome to 2013. I look forward to another year of Design*Sponge filling up my Google Reader, being inspired by the people, the photos, the ideas. I’m so glad you’re keeping the focus on REAL peoples’ REAL homes – because no one can build a community from empty spec showrooms or lifeless photo studio props.

  23. Thank you for your lovely post.I hope you will be there for us for many years to come, and we all may be there for you too.Much love from a cold and rainy England.

  24. Hi Grace,

    This is such a welcoming post for the new year, and I thank you for it.


  25. Tish says:

    That’s a lovely perspective.

  26. Anna says:

    That’s really beautiful Grace.

    And all so true. I used to care too much about my home looking ‘perfect’ to an obsessive level and i wasn’t happy, but after living overseas in london in pretty basic conditions and traveling extensively, living out of a suitcase and meeting my lovely, carefree argentinian boyfriend, I found true true happiness. I am now about to set up home again in Melbourne with new priorities of comfort and entertaining and a comfy sofa bed for when our friends and family come to stay. Any chance of a sofa bed round up? wishing you and the team all the best in 2013.

  27. Hanna says:

    …and this is why I will always love Design Sponge!

  28. Elizabeth says:

    This is a beautiful post. I’ve been reading your blog forever and love the directions you are taking it in. All the best in 2013!!

  29. Cassandra says:

    You rock indeed! Can’t wait to see what you do this year – it’s always GREAT.

  30. Megan says:

    Forget resolutions…heartfelt sentiments like that are the best way to start the New Year! As I start 2013, your words about home truly resonate with me, & I look forward to practicing them as well. Your blog is a daily staple of mine, & I am looking forward to many great things to come.


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