On Taking Risks: An October Letter From the Editor

published Oct 7, 2019
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I love the design risks in this bedroom (which, unfortunately, is not my own)—check out the whole tour, from Aelfie founder, Aelfie Oudghiri, here.

When I first moved into my current apartment, I painted over the white bedroom walls and gave them a deep eggplant color. I was working an entry-level job at the time, and a few cans of paint was an easy way to make a big design difference without spending a ton of money. I loved that color: it made my space feel like a dark purple cave, which was perfect for sleeping odd hours through my 20s. But fast forward six or so years later, and I was sick of the eggplant.

My husband agreed to do the painting one weekend while I was traveling to visit friends. I told him he could pick the color—he showed me a swatch that looked looked perfectly fine, a pale blue-white. Having him paint while I was gone was a risk (not to mention a color I’d only seen as a swatch), but it felt calculated. 

When I came home after three days of him working to tape, paint, and cover up the eggplant, I hated it. It was not the color of the swatch. Instead, it was more of a baby blue, which didn’t go with the vibe of the rest of the room. The risk did not pay off. And what’s worse, he loved it. Plus, he had spent so much time on it that I didn’t have the heart to tell him my true feelings.

I lived with that blue room for two years before I finally told him it had to go. This time, I carefully researched colors and swatches until I settled on a neutral greige with a navy accent wall. The latter felt like a design risk but the actual colors were anything but—I carefully planned every last detail.

Fortunately, it was just paint. But the experience taught me that there are different kinds of risks when it comes to design: there’s the fun kind of inviting the unexpected into your home. And then there’s the not-so-fun kind—the mistakes you have to live with until you can afford, both financially and emotionally, to undo. 

When the editors here at Apartment Therapy were first discussing what our month of October would look, they threw out the idea of “risk.” Part of why we found it so appealing is that it can mean so many different things. It can be about taking risks at home, or mitigating them. It can be daring or even a little scary. It can be letting your sweet husband choose the color of your bedroom and hating it; or it can be painting over the mistake with a bold accent wall and three risk-free neutral walls.

To kick off the month, we published our calendar of 31 small risks everyone should try this month—I’m trying to follow along, but there’s no way I’m giving up my morning caffeine (tomorrow’s suggested risk). We’ll also meet people throughout the month who are taking exciting risks, whether it’s with design or by moving someplace altogether new. And we’ll talk about the idea of taking risks before you’re truly “ready.”

One of the things I’m looking forward to most: for the last few weeks, our managing editor, Terri, has been letting Instagram vote on how she should decorate her apartment (what’s riskier than trusting 2 million strangers to make decisions about the place you live?!). She’s so brave and only a little stressed out. We’ll release the reveal later this month.

Of course, October is about a lot more than taking risks. It’s Halloween (check back for some super stylish no-carve pumpkin ideas), my birthday (ha, snuck that in!), and the release of a new franchise we’re super excited about. On Oct. 14, we’ll be releasing our Class of 2020: 20 Design Changemakers to Know In 2020. We’ve been hard at work putting it together, and I can’t wait for you to meet the class. Even better? If you have someone you want to suggest, you can nominate them for the reader-submitted pick: just fill out this simple form here.

What little risks are you taking at home this month? I can’t wait to read about them in the comments.


Our letter from the editor series appears the first Monday of every month.