I wasn’t planning on using the blog for posts like this, but it feels right to share this with all of you. After all, you share so much of yourselves with me when we work together, it only seems fair that I reciprocate a bit. So…here goes…
It’s been exactly one year since I started my life over.
That may sound like an exaggeration, but it’s definitely how it felt. One year ago, I changed just about everything.
Several years ago, I thought I struck gold. After years (and years) of being overworked and underpaid in high profile architecture firms, I was hired to lead a design studio at New York City’s Department of Design and Construction. I would finally get to run my jobs and team the way I wanted, and do so on projects I really cared about. Not to mention that I would be working 35 hours a week instead of a 70. I was over the moon.
At the same time, after years (and years) of going on one first date after another, I met someone with whom I could see a future. I thought I finally found my person, and was delighted to delete all the apps and commit to building a life together.
It all felt like a dream come true. I was finally enjoying my work, leaving at a reasonable hour, and had someone special with whom I could share my extra time. But, as I’m sure you can guess, things changed.
This is when I began to really understand the importance of home as a safe space. Not just physically safe, but emotionally and psychologically safe as well.
Don’t get me wrong, I always KNEW it was important. I was very lucky to grow up in a supportive and loving home, and spent my entire adult life living alone in a sweet little studio in the clouds. My home had always felt safe, and my concept of home had never been tested…until I decided my person and I should move in together.
I will admit, my motives weren’t completely pure. While I did love my person, I was also ready to secure the coveted separate bedroom - a true NYC status symbol of maturity. Plus as a designer, I was ready for a new apartment challenge! Not to mention that the economics of Manhattan meant that living together we would be “saving money”. I had no idea what the real cost would be.
Despite moving only 5 blocks away with a 2 week lease overlap, it was still a stressful ordeal. Cracks began to form in our relationship…or at least I started to notice them. As the honeymoon of dating gave way to realities of living together, the cracks spread. Over time my dream job turned into yet another nightmare. My partner’s job and graduate education became increasingly stressful too...more cracks.
When I lived in my studio, no matter how bad my day was, I knew I would always come home to a quiet apartment - everything exactly where I left it. I could watch anything I wanted on my tiny tv and eat whatever weird combination of comfort foods seemed appealing that night. I could do whatever I wanted without having to explain myself to anyone. It was safe. It was my refuge. It was sacred.
I willingly traded my refuge for partnership, but I didn’t know what I was giving up. It wasn’t long before I dreaded coming home, unsure of what I was walking into. I'd hold my breath and exhale a deep sigh of relief when the apartment turned out to be empty. I loved my person, but I missed the quiet reliability of my own space.
We each rotated through a series of bad jobs. I started AD:ROIT hoping that satisfaction would make up for all the other disappointments. Home continued to feel less and less safe. Covid happened. We relocated, thinking quarantining in our small apartment was the problem. It wasn’t. Last August was the last straw. I had enough. And mid-October, once my new apartment was ready, I left.
I started over.
I reclaimed space in the world for myself.
It wasn’t easy. I had to go back to working for someone else to get back on my feet. I sold everything I could from my “old life” to make room for new pieces and new memories. I looked critically at everything from my business to my friendships to my personal patterns to determine what I wanted in this next chapter.
I created a new home.
Home will look different for everyone.
Some people need to be around family. Some people prefer being alone. Some people crave moments of serenity in juxtaposition to the chaos of the outside world. Some ache for color and joyful exuberance. And some people just want a really comfortable and attractive place to watch a movie.
Every answer is the right answer for the right person. Your home is your sanctuary; your place to relax, recover, and recharge. If you don’t like how your home looks, it’s harder to relax. If your home doesn’t function properly, you can’t recharge. If your home doesn’t match your needs, it’s not your sanctuary.
While the process certainly wasn’t fun, I think I had to lose my home to really feel just how important, meaningful, and sacred the idea of home is.
And that's why I am so passionate about what I do. Every day I get to help people make a small corner of the world more functional, beautiful, and meaningful, and by extension, a safer and more sacred refuge.
Because everyone deserves to feel at home.
Till next time…
PS - Do you have design questions? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will answer it as quickly and completely as possible in an upcoming blog post!