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.