Our home on Design*Sponge

I was incredulous when Design*Sponge agreed to share a sneak peek of our home – and thrilled at the opportunity to publicly share the real story of where we live. If you follow me on instagram, you have likely seen shots of the house from time to time. But when I would get comments on those images – I didn’t always know how to answer – because the house really isn’t my house. But I live there. And some of it’s mine. But some of it isn’t. The reality is that I have the most incredible living situation I could ever imagine – a situation that I’m thankful for every day.


Last winter our friends made the decision to move to Singapore. It’s never fun when friends move away, and we seem to be at the age where more friends leave than stay. But there was one silver lining – they didn’t want to sell their (beautiful) house and needed to find house sitters who would live in the house and take care of it. Matt and I were going stir crazy in our small apartment and were starting to look at buying a home – the thing to do when you are married and live in the Midwest! But if we did that, I couldn’t quit my job – and couldn’t start this business. So we were stuck – our shared goals and dreams seemed to be at an impasse with my (at the time) ambiguous professional goals. And as much as I believed in the idea of this business, it was hard to justify putting our life on hold, staying in a too-small apartment, and quitting a job – that I didn’t love, but I didn’t loathe – to pursue an incredibly intangible goal. I didn’t trust myself enough to take on a challenge like that. I didn’t know if I even wanted to take on a challenge like that.

And then this opportunity to house sit for our friends came about. Suddenly we had an opportunity where we could have more space (finally, a dining table!) and where we could also follow our dreams – travel, this business, and (if you didn’t know we were dorks before… now you will) building an antifragile life.


The fact that the home itself is so incredible? Icing on the cake. The items in this home have history, and amazing stories behind them. They have helped me to refine my thoughts on consumption karma, and to realize that, while in general it’s always better to spend money on an experience, sometimes a beautiful piece of furniture that makes you smile each day is an experience in and of itself.

But how do you build a temporary home when you don’t believe in buying temporary goods? And when both partners have very specific design tastes… and one has seem most home products in production and thus is even more particular? It’s not easy. It took us over a year to get to the point we are at right now – and we had 90% of our furniture pre-selected for us! We focused on items that we could repurpose in our future home – and when we couldn’t figure out (or agree on) an item or a room, we just lived with it until the right item found us, which was a lesson in and of itself. Some items were obvious and easy, like our Rebecca Atwood pillows, our Matteo/Restoration Hardware bedding, or the incredible Moroccan rug from Mille… others took time and lots of discussions and pinteresting and sketches – like our plant wall and our Trilby Nelson wall hangings in our bedroom. But the result is that this is our home. Even though it’s not!

When people ask me how I started my business, I tell them that, despite my education and my corporate experience and the numerous unpaid freelance jobs that I took on over the years, this house was the catalyst that lead to my start. This was the opportunity I couldn’t pass up. And I knew I had to make the most of it. That I’d hate myself if a few years passed and we moved out and I hadn’t fully taken advantage of the experience. So when I get frustrated or I feel lazy, I remember the opportunity I’ve been given, and I work harder and try to be better. I realize that instances like this are not that common, but I think the true lesson here is in building a flexible (antifragile) life that will allow you to take advantage of opportunities as they arise. Leave yourself open to any and all possibilities… you never know what’s around the next corner.


Last – an enormous thank you to my talented friends – Ashley Sullivan for her styling expertise and gorgeous photography, Jackie of Munster Rose for replanting all of the plants I had killed over the last year and for creating an incredible arrangement worthy of my prized Heath vase, and Shannon Grant for her styling expertise and the amazing write up. And of course, to John and Lindsay, for trusting us with their home.

Amy Poehler

The last Amy Poehler quote I posted was a hit, so when I came across this gem in Elle while I was working through my saved articles last week, I knew I had to share.

A little bit of serious reading and some fun eye candy for you this weekend…

It’s Time to Tackle the Working Conditions of Women – BOF

Trafficking and exploitation are far more common in the US than one would think – this is a topic I’ve been learning more about lately and this BOF article was a timely reminder of the importance of empowering women.

How to Overcome Self Doubt and a Lack of Motivation

I’ve been reading and re-reading this lately as I work to overcome what could be crippling fears and self-doubt. What do you do to manage your doubts?

Sarah Frances Kuhn Camera Straps

I am kind of in love with these camera straps after seeing Taylor Tomasi Hill wear them for her Goop Fashion Week coverage… so affordable and hand made in Brooklyn! Which color to get?!

Loren Hope 2014 Lookbook

Gorgeous American-made jewelry, styling by Sara Kate Studios, and graphics by Sarah Tolzmann. Makers, take note. This is how it should be done.

Hackwith Design House Tasseltry

My friend Lisa just launched these incredible tassles made of scrap material from her clothing line… Her clothing is incredible, and this no-waste component is brilliant and I’m so proud of her for launching this so quickly. Also – check out Kate Arends rocking Lisa’s new releases, shot by Melissa Oholendt. Again, a text book example of brilliant women (who I am lucky to call friends!) partnering to create something amazing.

Happy Weekend, Friends! xx

Follow along:

People that do things.

Me too, Amy, me too.

Some of the best things I read this week…

The standing invitation to lose faith in yourself

I didn’t realize it until I read it, but somewhere along the way, I lost faith in myself. I’m spending all of my time focusing on the things I didn’t do well or don’t know how to do rather than focusing on the fact that I’m trying, and that I’m doing my best. And that I can always ask for help. I’ll be reading and re-reading this going forward…

Women vs. Women – A little thing called Self Respect

Kate Arends on friendship and support among women. Kate was one of the very first bloggers I met (rather awkwardly, in typical Rita form) and she is incredibly supportive. I’m proud to know her.

Ladies against Humanity

Surprisingly, my most proper friend introduced this game into our lives, and I have laughed so hard I cried many times while playing – often at the look on her face when reading a card. These female-oriented options are hysterical.

CFDA Reveals New Strategy

Thrilled to see New York Manufacturing become a strategic initiative for the CFDA! I personally think it should be American manufacturing, but I’ll take what I can get!

The Art of New Beginnings

Sometimes it feels incredibly, painstakingly difficult to start over. But this article (about Miley Cyrus, with references to Kim K., Victoria Beckham and Kate Upton) makes me realize it can be slightly formulaic – and that millions of people have done it, so I can too.

SMP LIVING – Behind the Blog with Reading My Tea Leaves

I loved this interview with Erin and this advice is particularly fantastic: Spend less time doubting yourself and more time proving to yourself how great you are.

Have a wonderful weekend, friends!

The American Edit, 2014.

The first thing I tell clients is to put their plan on paper. Writing something down does not guarantee execution, but I think that ideas look a lot different when written (scrawled if your penmanship is anything like mine!) in ink. And it’s so much easier to hold yourself accountable to your ideas, your goals and your dreams if you can see them regularly. Inspiration/vision boards have never worked for me – I seem to get desensitized to them after a few months and then just ignore them altogether. So this year I’m trying something new and writing myself an email with my plans and my goals and then setting it up so it is e-mailed to me on the first Monday of every month. Hopefully, these monthly reminders will help me to hold myself accountable… I’ll let you know how this goes!

With that, I thought my first post of 2014 should start with a reminder of what The American Edit is all about. The mission, or in my case, the angle, that is the foundation of this site. I think thus far, I’ve managed to align to these principles. But I know I can do better, so in 2014, I will:

  • Be more consistent.
  • Write more. I’ve always been more of a consumer than a creator, which explains my obsession with finding amazing brands and products. The writing, photography and graphic-making that go hand-in-hand with blogging do not come easily to me… but the Why and the How are just as important as the What… so I am working on this!
  • Find even more awesome brands and products… and check back with our favorite designers and brands throughout the year to see what they are up to. 
  • Update the A-list. As much as this site is a blog, it is also a way for you to easily find American-made brands. I purposely started with a small A-list – my very favorite brands and makers, but I have been working on updating this directory and you will see many additions in the coming weeks.

I’d love to know what you think I’m missing and should be adding to TAE… comments are always read and appreciated or you can let me know via twitter, facebook, or email!

Happy New Year! xR