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My best of 2019 (yes, already!)

Picking my favorites on Curbed is like picking one’s favorite ice cream flavor: How can you really decide when they’re all SO good?

A living room overlooking the sea and some cliffs containers an L-shaped bench with 10 throw pillows. There is also a rustic, wooden coffee table and a geometric rug.
The interior of the Halprin residence in the Sea Ranch.
Photography by Leslie Williamson

Welcome! This week, I’m getting a jump on everyone’s year-end lists and revealing my own account of 2019’s best, as published on Curbed—a giant “ICYMI,” if you will. It’s also been quite a fortnight for deep reading and inspiring visuals, so I’m rounding up everything that’s wormed its way into my mind lately. Finally, I am bidding you adieu for awhile, as I’m officially on maternity leave as of next week. Stay tuned for some newsletter surprises while I’m out—I promise you won’t be disappointed. —Kelsey

In case you missed it

Picking my favorites on Curbed is like picking one’s favorite ice cream flavor: How can you really decide when they’re all SO good? But it’s a pleasurable task nonetheless. What I’ve included below is just a smattering of the coverage on architecture, design, landscape, cities, transportation, home goods, and shopping that we published this year—and surely enough to tide you over when news inevitably winds down over the holidays.

A kitchen countertop is filled with various plates, pots, water containers, and cutlery. The kitchen also has wooden cabinets with a squiggle pattern.
Ellen Van Dusen’s kitchen, which served as the set of our 2019 Home Shopping Guide.
Photography by Winnie Au

Home shopping bonanza
This spring, we selected our favorite registry-appropriate gifts and photographed them inside our friend Ellen Van Dusen’s awesome custom-designed kitchen. Last week, we unveiled our ultimate holiday shopping guide, which we’ll be adding to right up through Christmas—so many goodies! Betwixt those two, a motherlode of tips, recs, and roundups to sate your nesting instincts and fill your online shopping carts.

101 Ways to live sustainably
The latest in our ongoing 101 series presents a lot of actionable steps for individuals looking to make a difference in their communities and show how much they love where they live. We published a ton of local 101s this year as well, so if you love Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Atlanta, D.C., or New York City, you know what to do.

All the failed utopias
To accompany the seven episodes of our debut season of the Curbed podcast Nice Try!, writer and producer Diana Budds went deep into the field of idealistic living experiments gone awry, from New Harmony, Indiana, to the Republic of Minerva. So very many tasty morsels for those of you who can’t get enough utopia.

Sorry, millennials, a recession won’t help you buy a house
Not to be a bummer, but you should definitely read this essential piece from data reporter Jeff Andrews that unpacks why the recession-we-think-is-coming differs from the last one, and how it will affect very specific groups of people looking to make major real estate purchases in the next few years.

A woman in sweats lies lazily on her couch clutching a remote control in front of the television. A laptop, snacks, and old dishes lie on the floor in front of her. Illustration by Sunny Eckerle

The TV Issue
One of three whopping feature issues in 2019—in addition to the Communal Living Issue from January and the Suburbs Issue published just this week—gave us a chance to pay homage to the teen bedroom on television, stitch together the history of the kitchen island with the domestic drama of Big Little Lies, argue that BoJack Horseman is the only show that accurately portrays Los Angeles, and so much more.

Can the Snoo make me a better mom?
Curiously, I’ve heard non-parents talk about this robot cradle almost as much as new parents or soon-to-be parents. Spoiler alert: I won’t be testing the Snoo myself, but Alissa Walker’s deep dive on the Dr. Harvey Karp-designed cradle makes a decent case for it.

‘Paradise at the end of the world’: an oral history of the Sea Ranch, parts I and II
I turned an obsessive research rabbithole—the work of architect Charles Moore plus an interest in Bay Area regional modernism—into a six-month oral history project, during which I was shown around the Sea Ranch by one of the original MLTW architects, and kept up a regular correspondence with the ever-salty graphic designer Barbara Stauffacher Solomon. (And remember when Robert Mueller wore a Sea Ranch hat to drop off his infamous report? Ahhh, 2019, you were weird.)

This week in tabs

Sight Unseen birthday card designed by Ro & Co, via Sight Unseen.
A white bathtub is positioned inside a keyhole-shaped alcove in a bathroom with white and pink walls.
Photo by Ricard Romain via Elle Decoration NL Instagram
  • A few of us at Curbed lost our minds over this imaginative, slightly gonzo Portland, Oregon, house with interiors designed by Osmose Design. If nothing else, check out Makelike’s cactus pattern applied en masse to bedding, walls, and drapes. [via T Magazine]
  • Accidental Wes Anderson meets adolescent angst in this stunning middle school in Turin, Italy, designed by BDR Bureau. [via Clever]
  • Famed postmodern architect Robert Venturi died last year at age 93, and his partner in life and work, Denise Scott Brown, delivered a true-to-form tribute at his memorial service over the summer. Now, that transcript is online. [via Architect’s Newspaper]
  • Interior designer Emily Henderson ponders the trends in residential architecture for next year, starting with the question, What’s the next arch? I, for one, have spotted a few keyholes lately—an aperture you’ve definitely seen (and ’grammed) at the Guggenheim. [via Style by Emily Henderson]
  • My dear friends at Sight Unseen have been celebrating their 10th anniversary all week, and safe to say it’s putting me in a nostalgic mood. (I first used a GIF precisely 10 years ago, for example.) If you’re into tracking design trends, SU’s archive is a must-walk down memory lane. [via Sight Unseen]

On my mind

“Today who’s findable depends on who has left a trail for officers to follow: people with driver’s licenses, people with car insurance, people with utility bills, people who pay U.S. taxes, people with social-media accounts, people with stable homes, people with American-born children, people who live American lives.”

  • “Nesting during pregnancy is a real thing,” courtesy of the Atlantic. Sub-headline: “Readying the home for a newborn ‘helps us feel prepared for a time in our life when there’s little we can do to prepare.’” Um… no duh?
  • Everyone (and by everyone, I mean those in Curbed’s readers Slack room, and lots of smart women on Twitter) has been chatting about Rachel Cusk’s duo-profile of British painters Cecily Brown and Celia Paul. Come for the novelistic descriptions of studio practice, stay for the searing indictment of one Lucien Freud, and gain newfound respect for women who are doing the grinding work of making art.

Shameless plug

A group of people sitting with their laptops.
Illustration by Janna Morton

We are hiring! Curbed is currently searching for a seasoned editor to work with our team of senior reporters—many of whom I’ve namechecked in this here newsletter. Are you interested in busting myths, holding cities accountable, offering cogent solutions, and providing thoughtful takes on the zeitgeist? Apply through Vox Media’s career page.

Sign up now to get Editor’s Notes directly in your inbox before everyone else. Every other week, you’ll hear from Curbed Editor-in-Chief Kelsey Keith as she shares her latest observations, intel, advice, and shopping recommendations.