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Why We Talk About Home and Design on Food52

January  5, 2017

“??? Decor on a food site?” the reader began, quite understandably, having found themselves on a website called Food52 reading an article about the benefits and drawbacks of various window treatments. Drapery, shades. Goblet pleats are actually mentioned (and are entirely unrelated to drinking or beverages, it turns out). A little disorientation is only natural for a new reader.

Maybe you've wondered the same: What are articles about home and design doing on a website dedicated to bettering your cooking life?

One of Food52’s original taglines was, “How you eat is how you live.” Emphasis on the live.

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Cooking happens in the home, so it’s not terribly far-fetched to guess that a reader who devours recipes might also like to know the best light bulbs to use in their kitchen (bright white!—if you value your fingertips). Perhaps they’d also like to know the best knives to use—enter the Food52 Shop, circa 2009—or see a video about how a piece of enameled cast iron cookware is made, or read a tutorial about making candles at home. Flower arranging? Yes, let’s talk about that.

In the two years that we’ve been pointedly writing about florals, interiors, and product design, decorating and organizing, cleaning, crafting and DIY’s, stories about artists and makers, and more under the umbrella of home and design—you’ve been reading. And engaging: That bewildered reader went on to say, “OK, we'll go with the flow,” before launching into a lovely little commentary on the acoustic benefits of various window treatments.

Your apartment is noisy, and it bugs you? Try curtains. (Oh, and welcome to Food52!)

The step into home, from food, isn’t so absurd after all. And you, our readers, responded so well to our first intrepid articles about design in the kitchen that we confidently stepped right outside it: Three of our most widely-read home articles of the year (one, two, and three) were about bathroom design.

Of course, we got a few confused commenters wondering if this kind of information had a home on Food52—that’s why we’re laying it all out there today, because yes it does—but it was the sheer volume of readers that spoke loudest. You like bathroom design. Noted!

A love of cooking, by simple extension of where and how you do it, can beget a love of all things home. We’re believers, and we’re so glad you are, too. Here are some of the ways home and design at Food52 is here for you—the renter, the homeowner, the first time dinner-party-thrower—and lots of what’s in store this year.

  • Easy, inexpensive, beautiful crafts—in the vein of dip-dyed place cards made from food coloring and doodle-able leather coasters. Because time is money and cute stuff can come cheap.
  • And slightly more ambitious home projects for your weekends, too. Yes, learning to make soap will require some time and dedication, but so does laminating dough! You’ve got this.
  • More imagery of real, inspiring interiors (from apartments and homes to hotels, restaurants, and shops) and the design tips we’ve gleaned from them spelled out loud and clear. A promise disguised as a catch: They’ll be farther flung this year, starting with a tiny Airbnb we’re dying to visit in Oaxaca, Mexico. (Did you hear? Most people don’t live in Brooklyn. Not everybody wants a farmhouse table!)
  • We’re going to keep talking products, but not just those from our Shop: We’ll continue to round-up our favorite picks for all kinds of kitchen and home goods, like the smartest cleaning supplies we’ve ever seen.
  • We’ll get a little newsy, and tell you about interior design trends we’ve spotted, collaborations we’re bubbling over about, new style books and blogs we’re devouring, and the kitchen gadgets that everybody suddenly seems to be using. Get ready to weigh in.
  • And we’ll even be dabbling in our version of renovations—“micro-renovations,” which will cover a single room or nook of a house (for the plain and simple reason that we find them way easier to apply to our own lives). Yes, that means more before-and-afters, and not just because you loved this bathroom makeover to the moon.
  • Creatives will be a focus, too: not just the wonderful olive growers who make our Italian olive oil, but also folks with design jobs we didn’t even realize existed.

I'm Amanda, our Design and Home editor, by the way. I like hardware stores and rooms with way too many lamps in them. And I'm all ears: What do you want to know about home design? What part of decorating your apartment has you totally stumped? What countries, histories, and people have inspired your personal style? Tell me in the comments section below or email me at [email protected] whenever you very well feel like it, and we'll do our best to deliver the answers to you on Food52.

What’s beautiful should also be accessible—and in our own small way, that’s what we’re here to do.

P.S. If you’re obsessed with nesting the way we are, let me know that, too: We’re recruiting new design writers! (Extra credit if you like different things than I do.)

What design conundrums do you want our help with? Tell us in the comments!

20 Comments

Azora Z. January 14, 2017
This is awesome, Amanda!
 
BAE January 6, 2017
I'd like to hear opinions/get guidance on the issue of lighting. I live in a 1940-built townhouse with an east-facing front door, and south-facing windows. Due to the arrangement of furniture and fixtures (front door smack-dab in the middle of the front wall, fireplace smack-dab in the middle of the living room wall; it's sort of a shotgun house--step right into the living room, then the dining room behind that, and then the kitchen behind that), lighting is difficult. We are considering having ceiling lights installed to make everything brighter, to provide reading light, and to visually open up corners that are lost in gloom. I'd like to hear opinions on just doing this in the first place in a federal-style house, and, if "approved of," suggestions on what type of fixtures to look for, and any other info others can share.
 
Janice B. January 6, 2017
Such a great Article Amanda!! <3<br />
 
Lynn R. January 6, 2017
This is an exciting update Food52! I spend a great deal of energy in the kitchen And wanted to create restful and or fun vignettes in my living spaces. Sooo last year making small spaces in my home that remind me of favorite features in swanky hotel and resort rooms. Such as a tea and coffee countertop caddy station and one drawer in my guest bathroom dedicated to snacks I.e. My own snack bar upstairs. I've used candles rugs and functional art,antiques, or items acquired from Neighborhood Apps. I for one am quite excited to have help from Food52 in creating these hotel scenes and other fun stories in different <br />spaces in my home and our family cabin! Thank you for helping!
 
Lynn R. January 6, 2017
Gees, error message first post so tried second both are up and the opportunity to edit is no longer at my fingertips! Arghhhh! The screen to post a comment in from a phone device is wonky when I tried to scroll up on my comment space to review and edit. More help in the functions of the comment area would be fabulous or perhaps I will just get better at commenting with more reps! 😜
 
Lynn R. January 6, 2017
This is an exciting update Food52! I spend a great deal of energy in the kitchen And wanted to create restful and or fun vignettes in my living spaces. Sooo last year making small spaces in my home that remind me of favorite features in swanky hotel and resort rooms. Such as a tea and coffee countertop caddy station and one drawer in my guest bathroom dedicated to snacks I.e. My own snack bar upstairs. I've used candles rugs and functional art,antiques, or items acquired from Neighborhood Apps. I for one am quite excited to have help from Food52 in creating these hotel scenes and other fun stories in different <br />spaces in my home and our family cabin! Thank you for helping!
 
Tina B. January 6, 2017
I am pleased to know the intentionality of you bringing your food sensibility to other areas of the home. One area I constantly struggle with in a city condo: How do I bring warm/sufficient light to our space? Would love to read about different approaches and philosophies. By the way, gave several gifts from your site to friends at the holidays. Big hits- great design with a little bit of unique elements. Thank you and Happy New Year!
 
amysarah January 5, 2017
Forgot what I meant to post before I side tracked into bike racks!<br /><br />Cooking-centric media covering home design, and vice versa, isn’t really unusual - “Lifestyle” newspaper sections do both, magazines like Elle Decor have monthly cooking columns, etc. And of course, Martha Stewart (and media spawn) began with cooking before casting a much wider net. Also, with Food 52’s own burgeoning shop, there’s obviously some symbiosis with expanding its editorial focus. Not to mention home design content broadening advertising interest - for instance, lately I notice banners from Dash & Albert (rugs) etc. <br /><br />All to say, I don’t find F52’s expanding its scope at all surprising, and it’s potentially a good thing (no MS pun intended) – as long as home design content doesn’t become thinly disguised “advertorials” for shop products. <br />
 
Author Comment
Amanda S. January 5, 2017
I'm glad you're distracted by the bike racks conversation—that's the whole point! And yes, we're very conscious of how we write about the things in our shop—with full transparency that we are marketing them (as in product roundups), and incorporated into non-design articles when it might be helpful for a reader to know where to find the tool called for or depicted (like a link to a rolling pin in a baking article, for example).
 
Tory N. January 5, 2017
Glad to hear more design content is coming!
 
Smaug January 5, 2017
You might consider developing a relationship with a construction professional (as opposed to a designer). Some of your articles have promoted some quite inadvisable practices- I remember for instance, and article suggesting hanging a bicycle rack with Molly bolts, and another that attached a knife rack by screwing it into the mortar between bricks.
 
Author Comment
Amanda S. January 5, 2017
Pulling in a construction professional is a great idea. Thank you, Smaug! The article you're referencing about the bike rack was updated to call for toggle bolts instead of molly bolts, with a note—that was just a terminology mix up. (Will poke around for the knife rack article.)
 
Smaug January 5, 2017
At least someone is trying, but toggle bolts is really no better. You simply can't support a live load- and a bike rack is likely to be very live- with hollow wall anchors; it needs to be firmly screwed into the framing.
 
amysarah January 5, 2017
I've noticed this a few times as well - I recall advice on hanging oversized framed antique/vintage mirrors (can be quite heavy) that didn't mention adequate support, and imagined accidents waiting to happen, hung on simple picture hooks. <br /><br />I didn't see the bike rack post, but you could also mount a 2x4, using a level and hitting a couple of studs (typically at 16" on center) to spread the load and paint it out to match the wall. Then screw the bike hooks into that. Might also minimize wall damage for a renter.
 
Author Comment
Amanda S. January 5, 2017
Studs, yes—have been meaning to write about how to find a stud without a finder (or if yours is not entirely reliable, as mine is not). Thank you for the suggestions, both!
 
Allison C. January 5, 2017
Yes, this is something I've been wondering about!! I'll be keeping an eye out for that article!
 
Alix January 7, 2017
How does this work for plaster walls? I do live in a Brooklyn apartment, and unfortunately the stud finder isn't finding anything through all that lathe...
 
Smaug January 8, 2017
Modern stud finders read density; with plaster, there are "keys" where plaster is shoved through the spaces between the laths (this is what secures the plaster to the lath) and, if large, these can fool the stud finder. You can still get old fashioned stud finders that were magnetic; these will detect the nails used to secure the lath, and work fairly well on plaster. Beyond that, you can try the knocking test (the wall will sound hollow if rapped between studs) but that is difficult to detect if the plaster is at all thick. You can try counting- you can assume that there is a pair of studs directly next to a door or window and count 16" increments from there, but this too is not awfully dependable. especially if the building is more than about 60 years old; there was more individualism in framing in those days. Then there's the possibility they've come up with something new since I got out of the game some time ago.
 
Smaug January 8, 2017
Couple more- electric outlet boxes (for switches, plugs etc.) are usually (not always) attached directly to a stud; you can sometimes locate the stud by removing the cover plate- sometimes you can see the stud, sometimes you'd have to drill a small hole to the side, where the cover plate will cover it. It's more dependable counting 16" increments from the middle of the wall than from the edge or next to a door or window. Also, you can sometimes tell where baseboards or other moldings were nailed- you can run a level line up/down from there.
 
Emily Q. January 5, 2017
Hi Amanda, bring it on!