“What’s so amazing generationally is that my mother knew everything,” Martha Stewart Living editor-in-chief Pilar Guzmán told The Observer at a recent event for the website Apartment Therapy. “My generation—gen X—we were sort of pushed not to know those things as a sort of feminist reaction. Now I feel like gen Y and the millennials are more excited about the home arts.”
Ms. Morin’s PB&J sushi rolls are perhaps especially appetizing to a young apartment dweller who can’t eat out every night, doesn’t know how to sauté and won’t learn, and, having clicked through Pinterest all day, finds a regular old sandwich disconcertingly plain.
The popularity of sites like Pinterest—where urbanites and Mormon housewives swap notes on cool and attainable home décor—and Etsy—where you can pick up an iron whisk or a “hedge witch whisk” made from real birch and rabbit fur—would seem to indicate that quirk has supplanted aspiration. Spoonfuls of pixelated sugar help the medicine of making your living space presentable go down.
Ms. Morin’s site gets its unschooled quality from the author’s own lack of pretension about her home. “My mom worked all the time,” she said, “so I never really learned how to do things what was considered the proper way. So I would lay over the side of my bed and try criss-crossing strands of my hair until I figured out how to French braid. And I’d put food in the toaster oven and try to make unusual recipes because I wasn’t allowed to use the real oven.” She went on to describe the manner by which she knit Capri Sun packages into a beach tote at age 16. As an origin story, this is not exactly Martha’s catering company.
Fanciful though her methods may be—a recent recipe on the site proposed topping pretzel sticks with pretzel dough for “pretzel pops”—Ms. Morin sees herself as the next homemaking doyenne. Her inspirations include “Rachael Ray for craft and home” as well as Google’s Marissa Mayer and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg.
That Ms. Morin would cite Ms. Ray—the Food Network cook (not chef!)—as a guiding light makes sense; the ambitious Google alumna wanted to start a company, rather than coming up through the food-service or decorating industry. Why should one take her advice? Why not?
Another star of the post-expertise how-to landscape is Jordan Reid, a petite lifestyle blogger who was recently given a show on the Meredith Corporation’s YouTube channel DIGS, in which she goes antiquing to pick out gems for her new Westchester home. “I would never call myself an expert,” she told The Observer. “The most important thing you do is show people how you screw up. It’s saying if I can do this, you can do this.” Her website, created after an aborted partnership with Julia Allison’s blogging network NonSociety and an earlier go at an acting career, is called Ramshackle Glam.
Ms. Reid’s apartment on the Upper East Side suits her project: far from aspirational, her digs are merely just-above-average enough to grant her the leeway to bestow advice. There’s a hubby-appropriate bookcase of comic books, decoupaged with images of superheroes, wallpaper depicting grim black trees, and a pair of small white dogs who seem to have found a diversion under a sofa. “Oh, thank you for dragging me a huge fluffball out from under the couch!” she tells one, scoffing at herself. “Home décor expert! I am barely holding this apartment together.” She’s been much busier since the birth of her infant, a few months ago—though she has it together enough to offer us a Mason jar of water.
“I write about Mason jars a lot,” she told us. “It’s embarrassing. They’re easy to do a lot with.”