My apology for not getting to this sooner. It has been a very busy week and I only skimmed the Oprah thread before it started to go haywire. I got a full on vomiting flu on Thursday hours before getting on a plane to come down here to Puerto Rico for a friend's bachelor party. To get online here, I have found one hotel in town that has this makeshift setup in their lobby. I've got 30 minutes, so lets see what I can say (btw posting will be lighter today as a result)...
First of all, at Apartment Therapy we have rules about commenting which are pretty simple: be honest and be fair, and no ad hominem attacks and no meanness. Keep to the subject. Those commenters who can't stick to the rules will get taken down or have their IP's blocked. We are a community, but we are under no illusion that not everyone is bringing goodness to it. And anyone who gets blocked can always come back again, as long as they ask to and behaaaaave.
Apartment Therapy is about helping people. That is why I originally started going door to door in 2001 offering nuts and bolts interior design services. The blog is an extension of that. Everyone who writes for AT, ourselves included, does this as a service and believes that it is a pretty good one.
When I graduated from high school, the fellow who gave the graduation speech told us all that our job was to take the great education we had received and give back to the world. I have taken that to heart ever since. Everything I have done, from teaching to interior design has been aimed first at giving back to the world and doing whatever I could to do the right thing and live "not for self" as our school's motto commended.
Which brings us to the center of the storm, which seems to be that some people feel that by championing the small space, our apartment, living perhaps a bit more modestly, we are in fact being hypocritical because we have untold millions and huge real estate tucked away that we gallop through naked whenever we get the chance. Frankly, it has been amazing to suddenly read about how many people "know" us and yet don't have their facts straight. Without giving you my whole life story, let me see if I can set a few things straight and we can get on with the real issues at hand, which are finding ways of living happily and successfully at home in 2007.
Are Sara and I rich, have a lot of money and could easily afford to live elsewhere? Are we merely grandstanding?
No. I have lived in this apartment for 14 years and have thought of moving a number of times. On a teacher's salary and now on an Apartment Therapy and a writing income, it has never been easy to move and we can't afford much of a rent hike. We've looked to buy (with family help) and not been able to afford anything we liked, AND we really do love our apartment. The ONLY problem with it is that will be too small in a year, when Ursula grows. Up until that point, however, it is marvelous. I've lived small my whole life and it works. With a third being, however, we will need a little more space.
We are firmly living within our means, and have chosen to devote ourselves to work that we believe in and which know will not make us rich overnight but will pay off in the long run on many levels. We live modestly, but we live very, very happily.
Do we have a house in the Hamptons?
No, we have three, and they are owned by my family, rented out a good deal of the time to pay the mortagages and are all in a very special place, far from the hub-bub and excitement of the beachside Hamptons. Being very homey and very designy, we have spent a good deal of time making improvements and planting a big garden out there over the years. It is DEFINITELY an escape hatch from the city, and we mainly get there on weekends.
Do we in any way have advantages that we have hidden from view that in any way cut against what we espouse or say in public?
You decide. We both have very supportive and loving families that have allowed us the freedom to pursue our dreams. In addition, my father has worked extremely hard over the course of his life to provide the kind of financial security he never knew as a child (his father lost everything in the depression), and has done a great job. He lives very comfortably, could be called "rich" (but he's no Donald Trump ;-)) and still works every day, though he should be retired. He is also very supportive of us, and has allowed allowed all his children the freedom to pursue completely different agendas, which is probably why we have all gone into professions that are perhaps more idealistic but financially limited.
When we move from our small aparment and if need help in any way, will we ask him? Absolutely.
Is there anything else?
My time is up here and I very much hope that this can stop the maelstrom, and set some minds at ease. And again, I apologize for letting this get a bit out of hand and not address it sooner so that we can get back on subject.
While we do require our privacy, I am happy to answer any questions that readers do have so as to really make clear what apartment therapy is all about. It is an inspiration to me everyday to be doing this work and I don't want to see it fail.
We are starting up our interviews this next month, and I would be happy to be the first guinea pig, but wouldn't you rather hear about Karim Rashid, Stephen Drucker or someone like that?