When it comes to millennial home design, it’s hard to think of a brand with more name recognition than Apartment Therapy. The playful, quirky, and colorful design and décor website first came to life as a newsletter, launched by Maxwell Ryan in 2001. Since then, it’s grown into a full-fledged media company.

“The whole idea of Apartment Therapy was that if I can explain to you why you don’t feel good in your living room, then you should be able to do this on your own,” said Ryan in a recent interview at his office on New York’s Lafayette Street, just steps away from the bustle of shoppers in SoHo. In short, the point is not to hand-hold readers through the process, but rather to give them enough know-how to become confident home designers themselves.

Alongside culinary sister site The Kitchn (launched in 2005), Apartment Therapy now offers home tours, buying guides, DIY design tips, and more to a devoted audience of 30 million unique users. An object featured on Apartment Therapy is a guaranteed bestseller, while a house tour can turn homeowners into mini celebrities in the design world. Offline, Apartment Therapy has published award-winning books and launched both furniture and tableware collections.

In short, Apartment Therapy is a force to be reckoned with. But to Ryan, who was a Waldorf School teacher before he got into interior design, and never could have imagined he’d be at the helm of a mini media empire, it’s not just about a room, it’s about how people feel in that room. Are they happy? Are they productive? Are they focused? Are they relaxed? How much power do they feel they have in designing their lives and careers? To Ryan, all these things play a part in building a beautiful space, as well as a successful company.

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