Everyone Is Talking About This Cup of Jo House Tour With a Sofa in the Kitchen

published Aug 19, 2022
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If you’re someone who spends time online in home design and family spaces (this one included!), you have undoubtedly seen your share of house tours. Depending on what and who you follow, those homes might vary a bit stylistically (or not), but most of them probably adhere to the unspoken rules of publicly-shared, semi-professional home sneak peeks: show what’s beautiful and aspirational, hide what’s ugly, messy, or mundane. Talk about the cohesive design. Share secret shopping places and smart home hacks. Erase signs of kid clutter. Apologize for the state of the un-renovated kitchen.

But a recent House Tour over at Cup of Jo featuring the home of writer Catherine Newman has readers (on that site, and around the internet!) freaking out. It’s hit a nerve, but in the best way possible. Here’s why:

“This house tour made me cry.”

That’s what Sara Petersen, the wonderful writer behind In Pursuit of Clean Countertops, wrote in her recent newsletter, with regards to Catherine Newman’s house tour on Cup of Jo. While most aspirational house tours leave out “any evidence of actual lives being lived in these good-looking homes,” in Catherine’s home “the life of this home is not tucked away out of sight.”

A piled-up boot tray in the entryway; visible kitty litter and tampons in the bathroom; the piles of board games; the old coffee table covered in paper to encourage notes and drawing; the paint colors chosen purely because they were fun; a sofa in the kitchen so people can hang and talk; the clothes chair in the bedroom (!).

And of course, Catherine’s own thoughts on her home, which feel revelatory in contrast to how most people talk about their homes in a house tour. “I tried to keep it real,” she says, “but then I kept thinking — omg, the photographer will pull back this curtain, and there’s going to be a bucket of dirty washcloths and all the acne medication. It’s so weird what makes you feel shame. Even though nothing was different from what anyone else would have. Oh, god forbid someone see my acne medication!”

Anna Maltby, Virgina Sole-Smith, and Kate Baer were all incredibly moved by this house, as Sara Petersen shared in her newsletter. And the 380+ comments about the tour on Cup of Jo’s website are proof that this tour hit home for many, many people. Just a few of the comments:

“THANK YOU for posting a home that is loving and warm and also decoratively and financially attainable. This is the first time I felt that this is a real house with realistic expectations and it makes me feel like I’m on the right track.” – Emily

“This is perhaps the first time I read a home tour where I actually forgot to look at the pictures because the words were so enthralling. After, I thought, oh yeah, I should look at the details of the house itself. What she had to say about creating a home made the actual look of the home feel irrelevant. (As an aside, I really loved her home anyways, it has the exact feeling I strive for).” – Jessica

“It’s good to see a house tour that doesn’t make me feel a little bit bad about my own house…a house that’s not too perfect, expensive, precisely and expertly decorated. Whenever my house gets messy or a little uncoordinated looking (which, with four boys, is usually), I just try to tell myself, “well, we live here.” It looks like Catherine actually lives in her house, too! What a relief!” – Bonnie

“Everything about this is so lovely. This has inspired me more than any other home post because it has made me think not about how I want to decorate my house or how I want my house to look, but how I want to LIVE in my HOME and I want my family and guests to FEEL.” -Noelle

Check out the complete, wonderful tour: Catherine Newman’s House is a Joyful Jumble of Books, Games, and Cats at Cup of Jo