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Left: Christene Barberich, Right: Ashleigh Ciucci

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Christene Barberich

The co-founder and editor-in-chief of Refinery29 on her origins (1970s Long Island) and her approach to small-space living

What was your childhood home like?

I grew up on the South Shore of Long Island: small house, small town, even smaller bathroom. My mom was a fan of the much maligned "70s palette"—mustard, brown, and chartreuse, still her favorite, and now, funny enough, mine, too. I can still see the paneling and moss green pottery everywhere! What are your most vivid recollections of that time in your life? Giant hook-rug wall hangings and all my parents’ amazing cars. We didn't have a ton of money when I was growing up, but they always had fabulous old cars: cherry-red Volkswagen beetles, convertible 1968 Chevy Impala, a bright orange Plymouth duster. My parents loved to take road trips, and they definitely passed this on to me.

All photos courtesy of @christenebarberich on Instagram; photo at bottom right by Luca Pioltelli via Baxter Projects.

What was the first place you lived in as a grown-up (and how could you tell)?

I lived in so many apartments with girlfriends all over New York in my twenties, but I consider my first "real" apartment, the first place I lived alone—a micro-studio on the Upper East Side. One former boyfriend coined it The Dollhouse, which was a perfect description. I treasured everything about that apartment, from the 1950s pink bathtub to the big front windows that overlooked First Avenue. It was under 300 square feet, but always felt like such a wonderful refuge to me. It really cemented my love of small spaces and making any home feel "rich" if you choose your things with love and care.

It cemented my love of small spaces and making any home feel "rich" if you choose your things with love and care.

Are you a diehard New Yorker?

Yes, always New York City, and Manhattan until I moved to Brooklyn seven years ago. I love everything about living here, but lately, Los Angeles has been calling to me. We'll see…

Are there habits that you can trace to how you grew up?

I've always been a neat-freak, even when I was really small, and our current place definitely reflects that. It has white walls and white floors and there really is no place for excess crap. We try to keep it as minimal as we can without feeling too spare or chilly. The white backdrop definitely makes objects, patterns, and images pop, so I take a lot of care to bring things in that feel like home to me.

What do you think the future of home is?

Returning to that idea that a home has a soul, it's not just a commodity. Respecting that soul and connecting with it is so important. If you're good to your home, it will be good to you.


For Home Sweet Home, Curbed talked to 30 engaging personalities across a range of industries to learn about where they grew up and what home means to them. Follow Christene Barberich on Twitter and on Instagram, where she posts photos of her house under the hashtag #baxterproject. See more of her husband Kevin Baxter's architectural work at Baxter Projects.

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