How Can I Help? What Would You Like To See From Design Mom This Year?
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New Year, New Plans
If you’ve been reading my work for awhile, you may already know that I like to make big plans at the start of the year. Sometimes I follow through on the plans successfully. Sometimes I make an attempt and then fail — either loudly or quietly. Sometimes I make a little progress and then get distracted by other shinier projects. At the moment, I feel the same instincts to think big, but I keep tempering every project I think of with “depending on the pandemic”. So, who knows? Here are some of the projects on my mind for 2022.
I knew we weren’t going to hold an Alt Summit conference in 2021, but I really thought we would have one in 2022 — and perhaps we still will! Historically, Alt Summit takes place in the first quarter of the year, so I assumed we would be deep in the last weeks of planning right now. But alas, the timing just hasn’t felt right yet. There was a window at the end of last summer, where we almost announced ticket sales and a call for speakers. But then Delta hit. I considered announcing again in late November. Then Omicron made its debut. So for now, we’re just in a wait and see pattern. First quarter is out, but there are still 9 other months of 2022 that could be workable. I’m thinking a September conference could be ideal. We shall see.
Design Mom Normandy Retreat
Though I haven’t been able to work much on Alt Summit, my instinct to gather people together is still going strong. At the urging of many messages and requests, I’ve been working on the possibility of a Design Mom Retreat in Normandy this summer.
I’m thinking a group of about 30 people at one of the most luxurious Normandy hotels/resorts, with daily outings to my favorite spots in the region, shopping at brocantes and vide greniers, history/chateau tours, discussion sessions, forest walks, and lots of rest.
What are your thoughts? Would something like this appeal to you? Have you ever been to this sort of retreat?
The Tall House & The Small House
As far as the BIG renovation projects go, I’m happy to report the Tall House is pretty much complete. Which means I am now in the decorating phase — trying to find the right rugs for each room, thinking about art work (a mural?) in the stairwell, figuring out wallpaper for Flora June’s bedroom. That sort of thing.
So… I can now transfer my big-renovation-energy to the Small House! In fact, on New Year’s Eve, our family did the first clearing out project at the Small House. I haven’t shared it yet, but I’m excited to show you.
I’d love to do the Small House renovation over the next 6 months, and then rent the Small House out — probably via Airbnb or VRBO. It has its own garden and entry from the next street over, and I think it could be an idyllic and stylish little escape for visiting tourists.
Not sure what the Small House is? When we bought the Tall House (which is the home we’ve spent the last 2 years renovating), it came with a full second house behind it. We call it the Small House. I haven’t really given a tour of it yet, though it sometimes shows up in my Instagram stories. The Small House was built in the 1400s. From what we can tell, the was originally a residence, but most recently it was used as a blacksmith shop — the fireplace still has a forge!
Should I Go For Sponsors Again?
When we bought the Tall House, we set aside budget for its renovation, but not for two renovations. So I’m trying to figure out how to fund work on the Small House.
I’ve said no to sponsored work for the last 3 years (though I worked with sponsors regularly for a decade before that), but maybe it’s time to start working with sponsors again? How bugged would you be if you started seeing sponsored stories and posts in my Instagram content? And remember, inevitably some of the sponsors could be companies you don’t like. (I know this because I’ve received complaints about literally every sponsor I’ve ever worked with.)
Related, would you be interested in a newsletter about influencers and sponsors and affiliate links and how content creators make money? About why it doesn’t work the way most people think it works? And how it’s changed over the years? (I realize this topic may not interest anyone but me. Hah!)
Note: Even if I do start working with sponsors again, I would still keep this newsletter ad-free.
Design Mom Podcast
Starting a podcast has been on my project list for the last five years at least. I didn’t manage to get one launched in 2021, but I did figure out a few things. I got quite practiced at recording and editing. I did lots of planning and learning. I made progress on the podcast branding.
But the main thing I realized is that I am not up for doing this on my own. For this to work, I’m going to need some sort of podcast manager. I’ve got content (so much content!), I’ve got an audience. I’m looking for a partner who can provide advertisers and production. Ideally, I would love to get plugged into a well-oiled podcasting machine (if that sort of thing exists, and please connect me if it does).
I don’t want everything to be such a hustle, you know? I’m into my sixteenth year creating content. And it’s a pandemic. Everyone’s tired. I think I’m craving being an employee on this project versus being in charge. Does that make sense?
Still Thinking About Creating A Renovation Show
Last January, I wrote an Instagram post saying that I really wanted to do a renovation TV show. I got such an amazing response! I talked to a dozen different production companies, and in early June, I got a call from a producer letting me know that the show was going to happen, she was 95% confident we’d have a yes by the end of the week; that I should block off July because filming would start right away.
At the end of that week, she called again but with bummer news. The show didn’t get a yes.
I was definitely disappointed, but also sort-of relieved. Between January and June I had learned quite a bit, and I wasn’t sure I really did want to do a show anymore. I was worried that no matter how much I wanted it to be a slow, calm, discovery type of show, that inevitably it would turn into something fast and stressful and flashy.
I haven’t thought much about doing a show since that call in June. But it’s been on my mind again, because I read Meg Conley’s latest newsletter, which led me to Aubry Bennion’s Instagram where she detailed her experience of reality-TV-renovation-corruption (you can see her posts numbered 0-18 where she shares the whole discouraging story). I appreciated Meg’s thoughtful analysis — the main villain she sees is a broken system that currently has too much potential for creating monsters.
We’re starting on the Small House renovation, and it’s got me thinking about about whether putting time into pitching and creating a show is worth it. Could I make something I would really be proud of? Would I need to produce it myself? Publish it on Youtube or Vimeo? So that I could really create the type of show that is in my head? If I don’t have a big network to partner with, would it be worth it?
Also, what in the heck is going on with renovation corruption? Have you followed Amanda Jane Jones’ story? Her contractor stole her entire renovation budget. How is there so much of this? We’ve put people in Rikers for allegedly stealing a backpack, but if you take $80k from someone and don’t deliver the work, you can continue doing business as usual? Make it make sense.
Lately On Design Mom
House Tour of Koseli Cummings. She’s an American expat living in South Korea with her husband, their four sons, and a new puppy.
One-Pot Cassoulet Recipe. Perfect for a cozy winter dinner.
House Tour of Dalia Baurichter. She lives with her husband and three kids in a Parsonage in South Florida. She has wise words on getting through really hard experiences.
The Tall House Laundry Room Before & After. Lots of photos!
Here Are A Few Things I’ve Wanted to Share With You
-I really appreciate how this thread reframed how I think of 2021. I hope you get a chance to read the whole thread.
-"Opposition to public education is part of the DNA of America’s religious right."
-A helpful graphic about mask effectiveness from the Wall Street Journal:
-This is really good from PBS. It’s about January 6th, but also about how modern, violent militias are influencing the political landscape.
-On the history of U.S. vaccine mandates and public responses to them.
That’s all for now. Feel free to comment on anything I mentioned above, or whatever’s on your mind. I hope 2022 is shaping up into something beautiful for you.