Anyone who knows Mikel Welch will find it charmingly appropriate to hear how he found his apartment: “Believe it or not, I found it on Craigslist,” Welch says. The designer, who is currently hosting the buzzed about Murder House Flip on Quibi, actually got his start through the website: When he decided to switch careers to design, he began posting Craigslist listings. Now, years after Steve Harvey hired him and he found success on Trading Spaces, Murder House Flip, and more (including landing on House Beautiful’s Next Wave list) Welch hardly needs to head to the site to land gigs. But, he’s still a devoted scourer of listings, many of which have resulted in some of the most unique pieces in his apartment, which he has transformed from a blah space into a layered oasis that blends a serene
If you’re spending this stressful time confined to a small, lackluster apartment like me, you’ve probably considered some vicarious viewing options.
For me, that has mostly manifested in travel shows. But as I’ve worked my way through the classics of that genre, I’m finding myself perusing a different escapist category ― the home renovation field.
HGTV obviously leads this type of programming, but I’m not really a fan. The homogenous HGTV aesthetic tends to (in my mind) feature rich white people making tacky suggestions that rely on expensive imitations of bric-a-brac such as expensive, oversized brass jack game pieces.
Netflix has tried to compete in this genre over the last few years and offers some semblance of an alternative.
The Netflix renovation shows aren’t perfect. They still have some HGTV homogeneity and tend to have low budgets
It’s easy to look back at the many failed American utopian communities that sprung up during the Transcendentalist movement of the 1840s—from the Oneida Community to Brook Farm to Fruitlands—and point out what went wrong. (Typically, some combination of leadership issues, problematic sex and relationship practices, and logistics.) Each of these groups, along with several others, were attempts at creating what people thought could be the perfect society, using communal living as a means of implementing religious or social values. And though the innovative social and political ideologies (and failures) of these communities are what we hear about most often, we’re most interested in the elements of their architecture and design that remain with us today. Born of a combination of frustrations with modern industrialized society and a hope for something better, these communities were attempts at implementing social reform—though most fell far short. From neighborhoods planned
Architects and designers have long mused about what the future would hold. In the 1930s, French architect Le Corbusier famously imagined a Radiant City where efficient, concrete block housing was brought to life with thoughtfully cultivated green space. After World War II, American architect Buckminster Fuller imagined people living in inexpensive, mass-producible homes like his portable Dymaxion House, designed to reduce water consumption—it could be shipped to the homeowner in a metal tube. And through the middle of the 20th century, Americans Charles and Ray Eames designed for a world in which furniture was simple, long-lasting, and affordable, in line with their famous ethos to “make the best for the most for the least.” Looking forward has always been part of the job.