The new issue of Lonny magazine is out today, and guess what? I’m in it! I was invited to share some of my favorite things with Lonny readers in their ‘Blogger Style’ column. It was so much fun to put together this little collection.
The new issue of Lonny magazine is out today, and guess what? I’m in it! I was invited to share some of my favorite things with Lonny readers in their ‘Blogger Style’ column. It was so much fun to put together this little collection.
I realized last night (upon receiving lease renewal forms) that it’s already been 10 months since we rented “the new apartment” in Brooklyn. Whaaaat?! I don’t really understand how it’s been almost a year already, but geez—I guess I should take some more pictures of it. A little while back I showed you one side of the main room, now here’s another side. This room contains the kitchen, dining room, living room and office, all compressed into a surprisingly spacious-feeling 220 square feet.
When I was planning out this room, one thing I knew I wanted was a nice work surface. I don’t like compact desks. I considered a few possibilities, and eventually arrived at a combination of two VIKA LERBERG trestles ($10 each) and a VIKA FURUSKOG table top (regularly $60, but I found it for 50% off), both from IKEA. That’s a 60×30″ work surface for $50—not bad! The table is actually deep enough that Evan and I can both sit and work opposite each other at the same time if we need to.* Plus, if we slide the iMac to the end of the desk (or put it on the floor), the table is big enough to seat 4 people—really nice if we have friends over for dinner.**
*This has never happened. But it could!
**This has also never happened. I blame the lure of the roof deck.
The IKEA PS cabinet holds everything…and then some. I was sad to have to give up the awesome fauxdenza from our old apartment (it’s since been relocated to a closet at the house—more about that in another post!) because of space, but this guy really does an amazing job of storing way more stuff than it seems like it would be able to. All of our office supplies, tools, dog stuff, papers, and other things are in there, with room to spare. Our PS cabinet has been with us since 2003—almost a decade now. It’s an IKEA classic at this point, and I really think it’s one of their all-time best products.
Funny how much the (not) “new” apartment is starting to look like the old one, isn’t it? I even hung all of the artwork in the exact same arrangement. I still don’t think this place has the same kind of friendliness the old apartment did, but I am warming up to it! We definitely have a lot more visitors in DUMBO than we did in Washington Heights, that’s for sure, and I do love being able to open my home to people from out of town. It’s not big enough for overnight guests, but for hanging out for hours on end petting dogs and drinking coffee, it’s perfect! Every time friends or family come over, it really does start to feel a little more like it’s ours.
If you’d like to see a few more photos of this side of the apartment (as well as some new pictures of the office at the house!) and read a little interview with me about work spaces, head over to the Herman Miller blog. I’m so honored to have been asked to contribute to their Lifework blog! I think it’s obvious to anyone who’s seen any part of my house or apartment that I have a considerable number of Herman Miller products in my life, so this was a lot of fun to do. (Thanks for inviting me, Amy!)
You may have noticed a few little changes on the blog during the past 24 hours or so! Yes, Door Sixteen got a little makeover—not a full redesign, but what I like to call a “mini-lift.” A new logo, a slightly wider format, a few little tweaks here and there. My dorky bio page has been updated, and the FAQ expanded. I also fixed a few things that were buggy, like the display dates on comment replies. As always, please let me know if anything is broken or weird.
The other big new thing is that I am now officially accepting sponsorship ads. A while back I wrote a little bit (OK, a lot) about the possibility of that happening and why, and after weighing the pros and cons for the better part of the past year, I’ve decided to go ahead and make the jump. After 14 years of ad-free blogging, I’m excited about this new venture.
I considered a few different ways of going about the whole thing, including the possibility of signing with an advertising network. One of the nice things about using a network is that there’s no “cross-contamination,” meaning that the ad content is handled completely separately from the blog content. The downside, though, is that the network approach would most likely mean that smaller businesses with tight budgets probably wouldn’t be able to afford the high rates plus commissions. That would rule out the most of artists and designers and photographers and craftspeople I care about and believe in the most, and then what’s the point? So I’ve decided to handle all ad sales directly.
I can’t promise that there won’t be any of that cross-contamination—if a business I love decides to advertise here, I won’t stop mentioning them; if I discover a business I love through a new ad, I won’t hesitate to support them directly. The content of my blog posts will always and forever be representative of my own views and opinions. My approach to writing has not changed, and you shouldn’t expect it to. (You should expect to see more posts, though. Maybe I can actually afford the time to finish some of the dozens of unfinished drafts in my queue!) I truly believe that all parties will benefit in the end: Me, my sponsors—and YOU, the readers.
My advertising policy, which you can read in full on my FAQ page, is one of 100% transparency. To that end, my current stats and my current ad prices and the “fine print” are all publicly displayed on my sponsorship page. There are no secrets here.
It’s been a while since I’ve shared any of my web design work. I don’t do very much of it since my day job designing book covers keeps me busier than than I can handle, but I really do enjoy fitting in a few non-print projects when I have the time. Here’s a little roundup of some of the work I’ve been doing on the side these past few months…
✚ Honey Kennedy
This is my second redesign of Honey Kennedy—the first was in April 2011. Jen asked me several months ago if I could help her with some minor updates, but my schedule was insane so everything was put on the back burner. By the time we got our acts together and talked about Jen’s wishlist, it turned into a complete overhaul! I kept the same basic logo design and the dreamy, saltwater atmosphere, but introduced a richer color palette and bolder textures. Nearly every element of the blog got a makeover.
Jen is probably my most demanding client, but I say that with love. She has such a clear vision of what she wants, and has a really good eye for the tiniest details—that’s the reason her blog is so great. She’s also become a very good friend in the time since we worked on the first redesign, and working together is a pleasure.
✚ Manhattan Nest
Another repeat client! I worked on a previous incarnation for Daniel two years ago, but it was never much more than a header design and some simple modifications to a prefab WordPress theme. Back then I don’t think Daniel imagined that his blog would eventually become super popular, so even just convincing him to move to a self-hosted platform was an effort. It was SO MUCH FUN to finally have a chance to design Manhattan Nest from top to bottom! It’s also so nice to think about how different Daniel’s life is now than it was two years ago—in 2010 he was a pet-free single guy on the Upper East side, and now he lives in Brooklyn with his boyfriend and their two dogs and he’s winning contests and stuff. (Hey, have I mentioned before what a truly good person Daniel is, and how happy I am that we’re friends and that he likes eating and drinking coffee as much as I do? Yes?)
✚ CHEZERBEY + STUDIO ZERBEY
I’ve been reading Chezerbey for ages with more than a smidgen of jealousy in my eyes. Lauren and Kyle really set the bar high when it comes to home renovation, and it’s not just because they’re both architects—they also have amazing taste and an ability to stay within a budget and they’re not afraid to do pretty much all of the work themselves. I mean…this is my fauxdenza, and THIS is the Zerbey’s fauxdenza. WAY TO TAKE THE WIND OUT OF MY SAILS, GUYS. Just kidding!! Anyway, I was a little intimidated when Lauren first approached me about doing a complete makeover of their blog, but in the end it was a really smooth process. Both Kyle and Lauren are really good at expressing what they want and need both aesthetically and functionally, which is so helpful. Lauren even gave birth to their daughter in the middle of the redesign, but didn’t miss a beat. She’s superhuman.
In addition to having a kid, Lauren and Kyle also just became their own bosses and opened Studio Zerbey, an architecture and design firm. They asked me to design a website for Studio Zerbey that would complement Chezerbey while still looking distinct from the blog, and I think I achieved that. It was exciting to be involved with creating the indentity for a new business right at its inception!
Thank you so much to Jen, Daniel, Lauren and Kyle for trusting me with your projects…and for being patient and understanding when it comes to time constraints and sleep deprivation! I am privileged to have worked with you. Let’s all of us get together someday and have a “Dogs ‘n’ Blogs” party, OK? xoxo
I’m still making my way through all of the comments on my post from last Friday about my history (and future) as a blogger, but apart from the responses I’ve been leaving there, I wanted to take a minute to say THANK YOU.
The older I get, the more I realize that fear of being labeled a hypocrite (or a “flip-flopper,” if you want to get political about it) is probably the biggest thing that gets in my way when it comes to making decisions that are open to being judged by others. The fact of the matter is, though, things change. Situations change. People change. Times change. We learn from the people we meet along the way in life, and that’s a positive thing.
Like I said in my post, I’m not exactly sure where I’m headed in terms of advertisements and this blog, but I feel confident that if I do go ahead with it, I will treat that decision seriously and let my personal ethics guide me. There’s not only one existing model to follow when it comes to advertising, and there’s also nothing that says new models and standards can’t be developed. I’m not worried about what other people have or haven’t done—I’m concerned with doing what I believe is honest and worthwhile. I’m also not opposed to learning as I go. (I am a progressive and a modernist, after all!)
Anyway, I’ve said this before but it bears repeating: I have the BEST group of readers and commenters in all of blog-land. I am so incredibly appreciative of those of you who take the time not to just offer support, but to share your own perspective and ideas and concerns with me. As much as I like writing for writing’s sake, I love blogging for community’s sake.
Thank you again. ♡
I started my first blog—an offshoot of my Cure website, Hello Image (RIP)—in 1998. I didn’t call it a blog, though, it was just a journal. This was before the advent of blogging software, and the journal was a static page 50 miles long. Any comments were left as a guestbook entry. It’s funny to think about this stuff now!
About a year later, LiveJournal was launched, and those personal journals started to turn into communities. I maintained a LiveJournal for years, but it was private and restricted to a small group of close friends. I never got involved with the Blogger platform, but in 2001 Movable Type came along…and Absolutely Vile was born. Mena and Ben, the couple behind Movable Type, were Cure fans and had been involved with the online Cure-fan community, which is probably the only reason I was a aware that blogs (ahem, “weblogs”) were even a thing that people were doing at that point. It’s weird how everything is connected!
I updated Absolutely Vile every day—often multiple times a day—for almost four years. That took me right up to 2005, the year that Jason Kottke decided to quit his day job and become a full-time blogger in exchange for donations from readers. Blogging was turning into…something. I wasn’t really sure what that something was at the time, but I knew that I wasn’t really comfortable with it. My blog had always been a place where I could post about anything that was interesting to me or whatever was going on in my life that I felt like sharing. I didn’t have a plan or an agenda, it was all just for fun. Suddenly, though, I started to feel like there were a lot of eyes on me, and a lot of questions about what exactly my blog was about (the answer was always “nothing and everything”). Nasty comments started to become more common, and the demand from readers to see more of my life than I was willing to share became increasingly loud.
So I stopped. I deleted all of the archives and just walked away. I still kept in touch with my friends through my LiveJournal, but I essentially had no public online presence anymore. It was a massive relief.
During the two years that I stopped blogging publicly, Evan and I decided to leave Brooklyn (where we’d been living rather unhappily in a noisy loft in Red Hook) and move upstate to Beacon, rent a house for a year, go through a lot of real estate drama, move into my mother’s basement temporarily, and, finally, buy a Victorian fixer-upper in the City of Newburgh. If you’ve never been a blogger that distinction of public vs. private might not mean much, but in retrospect I am very glad that we did all of those things without having any input from strangers. For better or worse, I don’t know if we’d have made the same decisions we did if we’d stopped to listen to other people’s opinions. Yes, I did keep writing in my LiveJournal, but it’s different when it’s just close friends reading your words. I didn’t feel like “a blogger” during that time period.
Two big things happened in the world of blogging during my absence: Everyone left Movable Type and switched to WordPress…and bloggers started to make money. Sometimes a lot of money. It became commonplace for blogs to have ads on them, and sponsored posts also eventually became de rigueur. Full-time blogging was becoming a reality for a number of people, and everyone and their brother and their mother had a blog.
Despite swearing that I’d never do it again, I started to really miss blogging. Once we’d closed on the house (a long, arduous process), it seemed like the kind of renovations ahead of us were probably worth publicly documenting. And so, in the spring of 2006, I started Door Sixteen. For a couple of months, I quietly blogged about electrical work and re-plastering and such, and then I panicked. What was I doing? Did I really want to share this? Did I actually want people to read it? What was I even writing about? I wasn’t sure. So I stopped.
Fast forward to July 2007, and I was, of course, missing blogging again. So I made a commitment to restart Door Sixteen, but to only blog about the house. Period. No personal stuff, no makeup, no pictures of myself…just the house. I also made a firm decision to not monetize my writing, since it seemed at odds with my desire to remain slightly anonymous and to let my house be a home to turn the experience into a money-making enterprise. That was about as much thought went into it, really. I never plan posts, I don’t schedule anything, I have no sense of obligation to document everything I do, and if something doesn’t feel right to me, I stay away from it.
And now here we are another five years later, and I still love blogging. I love the sense of community it fosters, not only with my fellow bloggers, but with readers who engage in commentary. I love being able to share things I come across that I like with a bunch of other people who might like those things, too. I love doing what I can to demystify what’s involved with (slowly, slowly, slowly) renovating an old house. And yeah, as much as I tried to avoid it this time around, I love talking about makeup and music and movies and dogs and food and coffee. More than anything, though, I love to write. Before I figured out that I’m supposed to be a designer, I was pretty sure I’d be a writer. That didn’t happen, but I do still get a lot of satisfaction out of expressing myself textually as well as visually. The act of writing helps me to understand myself more, and sometimes just writing a post about the simplest thing brings me some insight that I might not have arrived at just by sitting in a chair and thinking.
I love blogging. I hate the word “blog”/”blogging,” but I guess we’re stuck with it. It just sounds so…phlegm-y.
(Is anyone still reading this? I know I’m rambling here, but I’m going with it.)
So where do I go from here? I’ve been blogging for fourteen years. That’s a long time! I don’t worry that I’ll run out of things to talk about (I never shut up!), but it is becoming increasingly hard for me to carve out the time it takes to put together worthwhile blog posts. I work in an office doing this all day long, and then I come home and do this until the wee hours—and then I sleep a little bit and wake up to do it all over again. I love designing stuff, don’t get me wrong, but man alive is it easy to get stretched thin. Everything takes at least five times longer than I think it’s going to, and I hate saying no…and, well, I’m not sure how well I’ve actually learned these lessons I wrote about last year.
This is what I do know: I want to blog more. I don’t want to slip into patterns where I’m letting weeks pass between posts. If I really do love doing this (and I do!), I want to do it as best as I can and in a meaningful way. I need to figure out to make that happen. At a minimum, I need to be able to stop doing so much freelance work in the evenings/nights/mornings/weekends.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about whether I should start accepting some advertisements from independent businesses. I know that’s probably shocking to a lot of you reading this, but I’m not going to shy away from talking about it. My approach to this kind of thing has to be totally transparent or else I feel creepy! I’ve had a lot of conversations about this subject with blogging friends of mine over the past few months, and all of them (whether they accept ads on their blogs or not) have been really supportive and encouraging of me going in that direction. I need to figure it out for myself, though—not just whether it’s OK or not OK for me to do, but where I fall within the realm of OK-ness and how this all fits into the scheme of things where my personal ethics are concerned.
So I’m working on it. I care a lot about the integrity of my voice and my opinions, and I don’t want to violate any trust I’ve built up with my readers—with you—over the years. It’s a tough area, I know. I promise not to be shady about it, regardless of what I decide to do.
Thanks for listening. ♡
I know, this post is a bit overdue! Chances are you’ve already heard on Twitter or seen another blog post, but two weekends ago, I hosted a sleepover party at my house with Victoria, Lisa and Jenna. I’ve never had so many overnight guests before! We had such a wonderful time. I wish I had more photos to share, but for some reason I tend to not think about picking up my camera when I’m with friends. I wish that weren’t the case, because it’s so nice to have visual memories of time spent together.
Breakfast on Sunday was exactly how I like it to be: perfect tofu scramble, collard greens, bagels from Beacon Bakery across the river, vegan sausages…and plenty of coffee, of course. There are fewer things that make me feel happier than preparing food for people and feeding them in my home.
On Saturday night, we all made ancho lentil tacos together. It was truly a collaborative effort (FYI, Lisa makes a mean guacamole!), and it felt really good to have a bunch of people in my kitchen. It’s hard for me to let go on control sometimes and allow guests to help me (even with stuff like washing dishes!), but I forced myself to just let it go for the weekend—and it was soooooo worth it.
We ate dessert (coconut milk ice cream and cookies!) in the garden. VERY exciting! We’ve been working on the garden for years now, and a lack of time, budget and resources have meant it’s been very slow going. Until that weekend, I’d never really spent any time in the garden just relaxing and enjoying myself. It’s only been a place for hauling, digging and sweating. The garden is still far from being done, but I’m glad I didn’t label it off-limits—something I tend to do with parts of my house that aren’t “perfect.”
(Hanging up those globe lights helped a lot. They’re just $12 cheapies from Target, but they added so much cozy atmosphere!)
I can’t say enough how much I love my friends. Having so much time together just felt right. I’d met all of them before, but being all in one place at the same time was very special. It wasn’t about networking or blogging or work or any of that stuff. It was just about talking, relaxing, watching movies, eating, staying up late and being friends. I didn’t want to say goodbye.
It’s funny, people are so critical of Twitter and blogs and how the internet supposedly takes us out of “real life,” but if I’m speaking truthfully, the internet (Twitter in particular) is the reason I actually have any semblance of a real-world social life. I’ve made a lot of friends online over the past 15 years, and a great many of them have become very real parts of my life—online and off. (And before the internet, I made lots of friends through writing letters with penpals.) Some of us just aren’t good at getting to know new people face-to-face. I’m one of those people. And that’s OK. Most of my friends are like that, too.
Lisa, Jenna and Victoria each wrote a post with pictures about our weekend together. They’re all much better photographers than me!
1. New York weekend at Lisa Congdon’s blog, Today is Going to Be Awesome.
2. Slumber party weekend at Jenna Park’s blog, Sweet Fine Day.
3. Unexpected guests at Victoria Smith’s blog, sfgirlbybay.*
*Victoria actually took a WHOLE BUNCH of photos from all over my house, so it’s sort of like an updated house tour. I know I’m kind of stingy with photos of my house lately (I guess because I haven’t been working on many projects), so if you’d like to see how it looks these days, head over! This is the first time anyone other than me has photographed my house, and I’m honored that Victoria found my home worthy of sharing on her beautiful blog.
OK, so it’s time to get political. You know the annual Homies Awards are going on over at Apartment Therapy, right? Yep, it’s true, the nomination round is over, and now the FINALS are nearly complete with less than a day of voting left.
UPDATE: Voting is now closed. Manhattan Nest took 2nd place. Yay, Daniel!
Here’s what you need to do:
✚ Go to the Homies 2012 Home Design Blog Finals page at Apartment Therapy.
✚ If you’re not already logged in, log in.
✚ Don’t have an account? That’s easily remedied.
✚ OK wait, go back to the Homies 2012 Home Design Blog Finals page.
✚ Here’s the easy, fun part: Vote for Manhattan Nest!!!
Just in case it’s not enough for me to just tell you what to do, here’s my campaign pitch:
✚ All-original content. Daniel blogs about one thing: His own home. Yes, sometimes his cute boyfriend and his even cuter dog (sorry Max, dogs always win the cutestakes) come up, but it’s all in the context of him building a home for his little family. The photos you see on Manhattan Nest were taken by Daniel. The content was written by Daniel. Everything you see on his blog is him. And nobody is paying him or sponsoring him, either—he’s sharing this stuff because he enjoys it.
✚ This kid is going places. I know it’s easy to forget when you’re reading his blog, but Daniel is only 22 years old. TWENTY-TWO. When I was 22, I was…well, OK, when I was 22 I had just started working at the same job I’m still at 14 years later, but that’s not the point. Daniel is young, and he is smart and kind and funny beyond his years. I don’t know what he’ll be doing in 5 or 10 years (I don’t think he does, either), but I do know he’ll be doing whatever it is really, really well.
✚ Daniel inspires me. He inspires me not by sharing a bunch of things that inspire him, but by sharing what he’s done to make his home feel more like an extension of himself. He’s living in a rented pre-war apartment in New York City that’s gotten pretty run-down through neglect over the years, and he’s fixing it up on a student budget. He’s not doing this to make the apartment worth more, he’s doing it to feel happier every day—and he’s sharing that process with all of us. Every time I take on a project in my own elderly home, I think of Manhattan Nest and have a little WWDD moment. He makes me want to go the extra mile, and to think of solutions to problems that might not be immediately obvious. Daniel makes me not want to be a slacker. Isn’t this exactly the kind of inspiration you want to take away from a home design blog?
✚ He’s my friend. I’m actually feeling kind of verklempt just writing those simple words. Daniel is my friend. He’s not just some guy I know on the internet, he’s my weekly coffee buddy, my personal mover, my confidant, my conspirator, my friend. I met Daniel because we both have blogs, and we’ve always supported and helped each other in whatever capacity we’re able. He’s a good person, and I’m very, very lucky to know him.
Ok, pitch done.