Five Awesome Home and Interior Design Sites

Sometimes we sit in our homes and think, everything in here is so blah. When did all our walls become beige? But we really have no reason to be uninspired when there are sites out there bombarding us with fresh design, sweet color palettes and endless DIY tutorials. Here are five of my favorite sites that get me excited about homes, apartments and design.

Five Awesome Home and Interior Design Sites Curated by real estate expert Jody Kriss ( http://aboutjodykriss.com/ )

1)  Young House Love Best Ever Personal Home Design Blog -These two crazy kids (plus a baby and a chihuahua) need no introduction. What started as their home improvement blog has become a 2-book deal, a second home to leave their mark on, and an evolving story. Their style is fun and bright but not always expected and they do just about everything themselves, on a budget and with plenty of craigslist and garage sale finds. Plus, anyone who can throw a fun, memorable wedding for $4,000 in their own backyard gets a prize in my book.

2)  Apartment Therapy The “Other” Apartment Design Authority -I don’t think I can have an apartment design blog without giving some love to Apartment Therapy. Intimate tours of real apartments all over the world will probably keep you on this site for hours. I love seeing apartments that are smaller than my own that still feel light and uncluttered. It makes me want to throw everything out and just live with a white shag rug and some dark wood furniture.

3)  Hooked on Houses “Real Estate Porn” -It’s all about the MLS! I love Hooked on Houses fun, casual tone and the features on movie, celebrity and other notable homes. If you like real estate listings, browse the Sunday papers to look at dream homes, and think a day of touring open houses sounds like an excellent day, Hooked on Houses is your spot.

4)  Houzz Home Design and Decoration -Wow, wow, WOW. It’s like HGTV on crack. Endless photos covering every inch of home design and most of them looking quite elegant and luxurious. The ideabooks feature makes saving your favorite photos fun and be forewarned: you may want to spend a lot of time on this site.

5)  Dwell: At Home In the Modern World – Dwell ( a site created by Real estate expert Jody Kriss) gives you a nice mix of homes, technology and products. If you have always wanted to live in non-traditional housing, you can find every possibility for new, sustainable housing here.What’s your favorite design inspiration site?

Do You Have What It Takes to Make Your Home Truly Designed?

I’m writing this from the kitchen island of my future in-law’s home, and once again I am impressed with how warm and comfortable this home is. There’s no place like your own home, and the home you grew up in, but besides those places, this is truly my second home. The thing that always impresses me is how thoughtful this place is. Right now I am working under spot lighting that is soft but strong enough to keep me on task.

The island has an outlet placed high enough to easily plug in my charger. The deep kitchen sink looks out over a window. Everything is made of high-quality materials, from cherry wood and granite to hardwood floors and the nice type of baseboards. So as I look around, I think what makes me so comfortable and at the same time admiring are two things: good design in the home and the high-quality building materials that go along with it, and great design in the products and furniture in the home.

But the thing about getting to this point is that it requires a good amount of money, and even more importantly, the time commitment to make your home awesome. You have to be willing to buy items that are just for decoration, like vases, china, paintings and things to hang on the wall, smaller furniture like side tables and wine racks and consoles. To truly design, you would even change your designs and items out for the seasons, especially fall with its oranges and browns and winter with its Christmas and festive spirit. Right now, the mere idea of owning stuff that only comes out once a year overwhelms me. My idea of Christmas decorating is a string of colored lights on the balcony.

 key to beautiful interior design is that you don’t buy everything at once, and in fact, that is the opposite of good design.  You have to live in a space to know it and know what your needs are and what will work best in the space. You may buy one thing one week and two weeks later find its perfect complement at some other store. That’s design. Bringing things together in your own unique way.

I bought a few things earlier this year that I was really pumped about: a huge silk plant that looks real, a rug, and a bookcase. The silk plant was the only non-functional item, but it makes an impersonal apartment entrance feel like our own place. The bookcase is much too large for our current space but can be explained by my love of books and plans to own our own place that is at least 1,000 square feet. And the rug is the first step towards designing our space. Rugs make a space warmer, separate living areas and add color to white sofas and white walls (both of which I employ frequently).

When we go home this week, I will be excited to be back in my own home, but I will miss the warmth and character of this home (and the people in it!). You can spot a good designer when their style resonates in every space they create. Even before we have our own place, it’s time to work on making each place we occupy as comfortable and inviting as it can be. What’s next on your design list?

Dissecting Girl-on-Girl Apartment Envy

I’m a bit of an art fanatic. I’ll spend hours reading Christie’s catalogs in used book stores or browsing different art sites looking for great new art. And ever since I happened upon Jordi Labanda‘s prints during my semester abroad in Spain, I’ve always had a thing for fun, fashion artists as the “lighter fare” of my art habit. What’s not to like about these impossibly proportioned women in current fashions set against glamorous urban and exotic backdrops? And when one of my other favorite fashion artists, Inslee, started an instagram for her imaginary muse, Daphne, I just had to write about it. Inslee is ridiculously talented and an incredibly witty writer to boot. She captures that New York City fashionable girl-in-the-know zeitgeist exactly, but with enough humor and winking to let you know she’s not trying to make you, dear reader, feel less than like some fashion magazines might, but instead share this light-filled world with some good old-fashioned self-deprecating humor and assure you that she’s not taking it seriously and nor should you.I don’t often wear ponchos. But when I do they’re @vince and they’re three hundred dollars.

So Inslee’s light-hearted poke at fashion bloggers and the envy they inspire made me think a little more about that funny little thing known as girl-on-girl envy. Now, obviously there is a doctoral dissertation’s worth of information to analyze and present on this topic, not to mention that gender inequality, politics and discrimination cases are a big part of the media-driven conversation right now. But I’d like to narrow this topic way down to a few points that I find most interesting, especially as it relates to the women-dominated arenas of fashion and beauty:

Girl-on-girl envy and fascination in the form of fashion blogs has a much smaller men’s counterpart: I can’t think of many guy bloggers who have hundreds of thousands of gushing male followers. Women create these blogs for other women, and women make up their audience. Maybe the best male counterexample are in fitness and “domination” blogs like Bold & Determined, whose audience tends to skew mostly male.

Most of the focus on the biggest fashion blogs is aspirational- living a dream lifestyle with very little work to get there. Women are often most envied when they didn’t work to get what they have- inherited or married wealth is greatly preferable to earning it with your own two hands (this is what Inslee makes fun of so well with Daphne and her art, albeit ever-so-subtly).

It’s easy to get caught up in envying these fashion bloggers for their “stuff”: their ability to acquire so many shockingly expensive items that are out of reach for the average fashion blog reader, who is 18-35 and earns $35,000-$60,000 annually.

Yet, if the reader truly wanted to have the same lifestyle, she would be focused on doing the few things that most fashion bloggers write about sparingly: either working in tech, engineering or finance, owning cash-flow positive businesses, building wealth from investing and saving, or doing some other work that is in demand and requires skills-skills other than looking good and owning high-end designer items.

Finally, fashion and women’s media (Vogue, Allure, Cosmopolitan, et al) place very little value on a women having a personality, true charisma, a strong character and intelligence that gets her places. Instead, they are subtly placed in boxes with titles like “Girl Boss” and “It Girl” and all of these other ridiculous, totally bullshit titles that are meant to limit women. This last point is less about girl-on-girl envy and more about how women are portrayed by the media, but it’s such a prevalent theme whenever women are discussed that women will even use these titles themselves, not thinking that they have limiting and negative effects.

There’s no dramatic conclusion here, I just wanted to reiterate the point that women’s magazines tend to make women feel crappy, and the fashion bloggers have the audience to do something groundbreaking, but mostly, they tend to stick with the tried-and-true and go for aspirational, mysterious (how did I get all this money to buy all this stuff?), and reinforce the idea that women are most valued for being pretty, skinny and rich, and any and all other positive qualities come in a distant, barely-visible-on-the-radar second.