Single Women and Their Spaces: Caroline Donofrio

For the first feature in our new series on single women at home, we're taking a tour around this unique space (think crystals and cozy talismans) and talking about how self-care meets interior design.
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Photography: Belathee

Photography: Belathee

An admitted interiors junkie, I have been trying to figure out the best way to integrate home and decor into the pages of The Fold since our launch this past summer. After some thought I realized what I love most about viewing other people's spaces is not seeing the way they implement trends, textiles or perfectly style their entry; no, what I really love about home tours are the stories behind them and the elements that makes each place uniquely representative of the inhabitant. 

One area I feel is underrepresented in the design industry are the homes of single women. Those who live alone by choice, those who live alone by circumstance and those who are raising children on their own for various reasons - this is what "Single Women and Their Spaces" celebrates. The women who invest in their space and make it an extension of themselves, for themselves. I could not think of a better woman to kick off this new series than Caroline Donofrio. 

Caroline is a renaissance woman in the truest sense of the word. The writer, editor, relationship guru and haiku master (+ certified yogi, the list goes on) has long inspired us with her intelligence, wit and enviable library. But after speaking with Donofrio it is her warm-yet-unguarded manor and intelligence that we find empowering and most refreshing. To quote the photographer who captured Caroline's space "she is fascinating." Today we take a look at her home and chat everything from misconceptions about being a single thirty-something in New York to her design philosophy to her love of Joseph Campbell. 

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Is this your first time living alone?

No. The first time I lived alone was right out of college, and I've been on my own for the better part of the last decade (save for a couple boyfriend cohabitation experiences).

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What do you enjoy most about being a single woman in the city?

The thing is — and I didn't realize until you asked me this question — being a single woman and living in NYC are actually kind of similar. They each boast freedom, possibilities, and adventures to be had. (Though, to be fair, they can also feel overwhelming and frightening at times.) I suppose I'm drawn to that — the proverbial question mark — in more ways than one.

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You have a beautiful selection of talisman, crystals and mystical "tools". How do these things add value to your home? Do you partake an any rituals or practices to balance or clear your space? If so, why, and what is the personal benefit?

You know that William Morris quote, "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful"? Well, for my own purposes, I'd change "useful" to "meaningful," and then that sums it up pretty nicely. 

I've always been fascinated with spiritual and religious iconography, which to me, sits squarely at the intersection of beautiful and meaningful. I love myths — I count Joseph Campbell's The Power of Myth among my favorite books — and how they illustrate the way so many similar stories, symbols and archetypes appear throughout different traditions. For me, all of these objects serve as reminders of the universality of human experience, and inspire me while I'm writing and dreaming up stories of my own. 

As for the crystals, maybe they work and maybe they don't, but they're nice reminders of the beauty of nature, and they definitely don't hurt!

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Is there anything in your home that doesn't feel representative of you?  

The antelope and bobcat taxidermies were both gifts, and are relics from a previous time of my life. The leather couches are also of another time. I keep these things for sentimental reasons, but in my everyday life I don't wear fur or consume meat or dairy. These are lifestyle changes I've made in recent years, and they're important to me, so I wouldn't want to send the wrong impression or encourage something I have complicated feelings about. 

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Are there any aspects of living alone that you don't enjoy or embrace?

One word: roaches. Okay, two more words: high shelves. It would be nice to have someone to help out in both cases. Also, scary nighttime noises are definitely amplified when you hear them alone.

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What is a common misconception people have about being a single woman in your mid-thirties?

Oh boy, how much space can I have to answer this question? People seem to think that we're all in a rush to settle down, that we're lonely, that we must be too picky (or weird, or sad, or career-obsessed), and that we're overly concerned with the state of eggs and ovaries. I admit that I have, on more than one occasion, been or thought or felt all of these things. But I would hardly describe them as relevant aspects of my life or parts of my character.

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How has investing in your space empowered you, your work and your professional path?

Maintaining my space is a very necessary form of self-care. When my bedroom feels like a sanctuary, I can sleep better. When my living room feels clear and bright and full of reminders of the people I love, it's more conducive to creativity and productivity and overall wellbeing.

I'm very deliberate in placing empowering messages in my line of vision. The books I keep on my desk are written by women who inspire me and remind me why I do what I do. I like to scrawl messages on my bathroom mirror with dry erase marker — inspirational quotes, words, poems. The latest has been up for a very long time. It's a haiku by the 19th century poet Kobayashi Issa: "This dewdrop world / Is a dewdrop world / And yet, and yet." I've gained a lot from this reminder of the ephemeral nature of all things. Not in a depressing way, but rather in an inspiring one. Our homes — like everything in our lives — are beautiful and temporary. It's our duty to enjoy them.

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