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Original art for Curbed
Original art for Curbed
Caroline Whiting

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Home Sweet Home

Love where you live, from the past, the present, and the future

The only house that ever appears in my dreams is the one I moved out of when I was ten. Pre-Latin class, pre-AOL instant messenger, pre-sneaking out, pre-college applications—all adolescent landmarks I should probably remember more clearly than the grasscloth wallpaper in our foyer, the gutters over the back deck that required constant cleaning, the carpeted stairs one could sled down into the den, or the cherry tree in the backyard that only bore fruit once. But that’s the thing about homes. Home is where physical space melds with security and comfort—real or imagined. Home is a kid’s drawing of a gabled roof and shutters on the windows. Home is the place you remember even after living in 13 different places since you graduated from high school.

And while I may recall certain decorating cues more than the average daydreamer (remember sponge-painted walls?), this exercise doesn’t require design expertise. Potent feelings about home are universal. So for Home Sweet Home, we rounded up a host of engaging people to tell their own stories, from a family with ten kids in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, to a teenage obsession with inventing spent on a frozen lake in Switzerland. We asked our participants to describe where they grew up, pressed for details on their earliest memories, queried them on inherited heirlooms, and inquired as to what places resonate most.

The narrative doesn’t end here, of course: We want to hear your stories and see your photos, too. Submit your own via our tipline, sketch it out in our comments section, or tag us on Instagram.

Table of Contents

Noa Santos

Co-founder and CEO, Homepolish

Noa Santos isn’t your average interior designer: In his mid-20s, he tapped into start-up thinking to launching his now-mainstream service, Homepolish, in 2012. What’s in some ways a tech company, Santos’s ethos of "relatable" design plays well with millennial consumers, who have hired over 450 "fluent" interior experts from the Homepolish ranks. Santos lives in Manhattan with his partner, a PR executive.

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Photo by Donald Judd © Judd Foundation Archive

Rainer and Flavin Judd

Co-presidents, Judd Foundation

As the two children of renowned American post-war artist Donald Judd, Rainer and Flavin Judd were entrusted with their father’s influential legacy upon the elder Judd’s death in 1994. The siblings stepped into executive leadership of the non-profit foundation in 2012, which includes properties in Marfa, Texas, along with the five-story cast-iron loft building Donald Judd bought in 1968 for $68,000. The space opened to the public in 2013 following a complete restoration by the firm Architecture Research Office (ARO).

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Jenna Wortham

Staff writer, New York Times Magazine

See Jenna Wortham's full profile

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Michael Beirut

Michael Bierut

Partner, Pentagram

Seminal graphic designer and Pentagram partner Michael Bierut doesn't believe in design as an esoteric pursuit. While he’s the go-to designer for today’s blue-chip architects and references Italian semiotician Umberto Eco in his 2015 book How To, Bierut’s mantra is both approachable and genuine: Almost anything can be accomplished through good design. He’s lived in New York since the 1980s, when he moved to the city to work for design legend Massimo Vignelli.

Read Michael Bierut's full profile

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Warrick Dunn

Former NFL All-Pro running back; founder of Warrick Dunn Charities

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Susan Orlean

Author; staff writer for the New Yorker

Before longform had its own hashtag, Susan Orlean was writing the kind of sprawling magazine stories for the New Yorker (not to mention eight books) that are by turns ruminative and investigative. She’s shadowed an orchid poacher in a South Florida swamp, profiled a German shephard, and chronicled Saturday night across America. Orlean now spends most of her time in Los Angeles, in a Rudolph Schindler house in Studio City, with occasional trips back east to visit her Columbia County, New York, homestead.

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Harry Gesner

Modern architect

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Ezra Klein


At 31, Ezra Klein has made an indelible impact on nationwide political media from his home base in Washington, D.C. Klein joined Vox Media in 2014 to co-found, an antecedent to his influential Wonkblog at the Washington Post. Folding in data, a real passion for policy, and one landmark interview with President Obama, Klein’s mission to "explain the news" presents a new perspective on the power center of DC and its trickle-down effect to all of culture.

Read Ezra Klein's full profile

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Add your story

What are your strongest memories of home? Whether a smell or a sound, an anecdote or an object, we want to hear your stories and see your photographs.

Share your memories

Joy Cho

Founder, Oh Joy!

Joy Cho has always called big cities home. She grew up in Philly, found her independence in New York, and now resides in Los Angeles with her husband and her daughter, Ruby. In addition to having authored three books, Cho has spun her blog and graphic design studio, Oh Joy!, into a lifestyle brand whose portfolio includes collaborations with Target, Land of Nod, Microsoft, and wallpaper and textile company Hygge & West. Cho’s home and studio are equally important spaces to her, and she’s filled the walls with art, a practice she carries on from her mother.

Read Joy Cho's full profile

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Desus Nice and The Kid Mero

The Bodega Boys

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Mazdack Rassi New Jersey home sketch

Mazdack Rassi

Co-founder and creative director, Milk

Over the last two decades, Mazdack Rassi, co-founder of Milk, has grown the company from a production and events space to a multifaceted cultural hub that spans fashion, music, film, and photography. "My life has been like I'm in a caravan, and I just keep going forward," says Rassi. His childhood was split between two places that could not be more different: pre-revolution Tehran, Iran, and Champaign, Illinois. His family was uprooted when he was nine years old and transplanted to the "middle of two corn fields," bringing with them only what they could carry in suitcases. He now lives in New York with his wife and children and knows better than most that home is not four walls and a roof, but family.

Read Mazdack Rassi's full profile

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Barbara Corcoran

Shark Investor on ABC’s Shark Tank; founder of The Corcoran Group

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Stahl Julius Shulman

Bruce Stahl

Architecture steward

Bruce Stahl grew up roller skating across the concrete floors of the iconic Case Study House No. 22, designed by Pierre Koenig. He and his sister Shari Stahl-Gronwald still own the architectural masterpiece. The Stahl House has appeared in over 1,200 outlets—including film, magazines, and newspapers–and has an ongoing partnership with Design Within Reach.

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Kara Swisher Kara Swisher

Kara Swisher

Executive editor and co-founder, Re/code

Silicon Valley power player Kara Swisher both makes and breaks news. The co-founder, along with Walt Mossberg, of high-tech conference D: All Things Digital, transitioned to Re/code, a website now owned by Vox Media, following a longstanding relationship with the Wall Street Journal, where she was one of the first to cover breaking news about the web and Internet policy issues. She now commands a captive audience from the stage at her Code conference series, as well as every day from her Twitter account to 1.07 million followers.

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Yves Béhar

Founder, fuseproject

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Lorin and Sadie Stein

Editor-in-chief and contributing editor, The Paris Review

Lit world power couple Lorin and Sadie Stein share more than just a last name (which held true even before their courthouse nuptials in the summer of 2015). Both Steins possess the kind of lettered élan described in the pages of Dawn Powell books—while keeping their enthusiasm for the printed word squarely in the present at The Paris Review, the quarterly magazine still going strong 63 years on.

Read Lorin and Sadie Stein's full profile

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Christene Barberich

Editor-in-chief and co-founder, Refinery29

Veteran fashion editor and voracious vintage buyer Christene Barberich is a tastemaker for the social media age. She’s co-authored a book on street style, informs a mass readership on all things fashion in her role as editor-in-chief of Refinery29, and makes it all look easy from her colorful, well-traveled Instagram feed. She and her husband, architect Kevin Baxter, recently collaborated on a renovation of their 750-square-foot loft apartment in Brooklyn Heights.

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Michelle Beadle

Host, SportsNation on ESPN

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Chris Hayes

Host, All in With Chris Hayes on MSNBC

Chris Hayes is a New Yorker through and through. The host of MSNBC’s Emmy Award-winning All in with Chris Hayes was born and raised in the Bronx, and save for college in Rhode Island and a few working years in Chicago—where he learned one-bedroom apartments could have a living room and a dining room—he has lived his life within the five boroughs. His parents still live in the tiny Riverdale townhouse where he grew up, and he’s made a home with his wife and kids in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, where he recently discovered a newfound love of sectional couches.

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Bruce White for Bard Center

Alexandra Lange

Architecture critic, Curbed

Combining the street-friendly perspective of Ada Louise Huxtable with an eye on how culture intersects with domesticity, Alexandra Lange has crafted a freelance career that combines deep research with an incisive viewpoint on all things design. She joined Curbed in 2015 espousing the fact that "architecture criticism has already outgrown the old model of one city-one newspaper-one critic." Since then, she’s lambasted an egomaniacal floating park plan for New York City, explored the architectural treasures of Buffalo and Detroit, and made a case for architecture emoji. Lange is presently working on a book about the history of design for children.

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Fredrik Eklund

Real estate agent, author of The Sell: The Secrets of Selling Anything to Anyone

See Fredrik Eklund's full profile

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Lockhart Steele

Editorial director, Vox Media

Lockhart Steele, the 42-year-old founder of Curbed, Eater, and Racked, and Editorial Director of Vox Media, was once described as "a fully formed New York renaissance man for the Internet era." He’s always been a few steps ahead of the digital curve (it says something that all of his social media handles are simply "Lock"), and 12 years ago, when he wrote the first-ever blog post for Curbed, he understood that obsessing over changes in his neighborhood was more than just an oddball habit formed by a somewhat recent Massachusetts transplant. Before selling the Curbed Network to Vox in 2012, Steele’s blogging empire would span three verticals in more than two dozen cities.

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Sophie Elgort

Fashion photographer, daughter of Arthur Elgort

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Courtesy Deborah Berke

Deborah Berke

Architect and founder, Deborah Berke Partners

If a born-and-raised New Yorker told you they’d had the kind of idyllic childhood that involved diving off a dock to swim on summer days with the neighborhood kids, you’d be excused for expressing some disbelief. But Manhattan-based architect Deborah Berke, who will begin as the Yale School of Architecture’s new dean this summer, had just such a childhood in eastern Queens in the 1960s. Here, Berke remembers these halcyon days, talks about her first formative adult homes, and what she thinks is next for how we live.

Read Deborah Berke's full profile

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Pat Kiernan

Morning news anchor, NY1

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Lisa Gersh

CEO, Goop

The kitchen has been the center point and gathering place of every home Lisa Gersh, CEO of Goop, has lived in. Her mother was the family cook, and Gersh inherited her love of hosting, so a big, open kitchen was always a must-have. It was only natural that when she started at Goop in 2014, the kitchen of her East End Avenue apartment doubled as their New York office. Now that Gersh’s own children are grown and out of the house, her kitchen is less busy, but don’t call her an empty nester. "I think it's an opportunity to make a new nest," she says.

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Interviews conducted by: Jessica Dailey, Kelsey Keith, Mercedes Kraus, Sally Kuchar, Adrian Glick Kudler, Sara Polsky, Patrick Sisson, Asad Syrkett
Art direction by: Tyson Whiting
Design by: Kelsey Scherer
Photography by: Caroline Whiting, Mark Wickens
Video Production by: Sarah Bishop, Ben Carey, Sara Intrator, Sara Masetti, Max Mellman, Anthony Morgan, Danush Parvaneh, Mark Olsen, Ryan Simmons
Edited by: Jessica Dailey, Kelsey Keith

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