About Us

A Letter From Our Editorial Director

Kelly Dawson illustration on a navy background. she has black hair somewhat around her face to her shoulders and brown eyes, a greenish v-neck sweater and a big, toothy smile.

I’ve always loved to be at home. I grew up in a big, extroverted family with a dad who loved to cook and a mom who loved to entertain. This meant that our home was always open to visitors, whether that was childhood friends coming to hangout after school or relatives visiting from a faraway place. We’d all gather together, sprawled out on couches or around a dinner table, and tell stories. The quicker the punchline, the better. 

It wasn’t until I grew up that I realized how lucky this version of home is: One that welcomes you as you are, and fosters a relaxed atmosphere of comfort and understanding. 

Semihandmade was built on the idea that anyone can have a beautiful space to call their own without the price tag of a traditional custom project. When John McDonald, the founder of Semihandmade, approached me late last year with the idea of SemiStories, he had a simple premise: It had to connect to the overall mission of the company. So if Semihandmade has long given a wide audience the chance to create the home of their dreams, then I wanted SemiStories to provide the feeling of home anywhere our audience might be.

As SemiStories took shape, the world changed. The idea of home became much more complicated—since it currently serves as a school and an office and a restaurant, among other things—and I wondered if my heartfelt take on it would no longer fit. After all, I’m now a homebody who’s ready to spend every night out. But I held on to the idea of a site that felt personal, because now more than ever, warm connections have the power to feel like the best version of home.

I invite you to take a look around SemiStories, and get to know it as a place of fun, inspiration, and community. Our wonderful contributors are based all over the country, and they will each bring a personal spin to the stories they tell every month. We also have a number of original series you will only see here—the advice column Do As A Designer Does, the interview column Island Hopping, the essay column Start Fresh, the throwback column Design History, and witty illustrations—that we’re super excited to share. 

Thank you to John and the Semihandmade team for welcoming me and giving me the opportunity to launch this site. And wherever you’re reading, I hope that our corner of the internet makes you feel at home.

Kelly Dawson
Editorial Director, May 2020

John McDonald

Semihandmade Founder

John McDonald is the founder of Semihandmade, which launched in 2011. The company has ranked among Inc. Magazine’s 2,000 fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. every year since 2015.

Kelly Dawson

Editorial Director

Kelly Dawson is the editorial director of SemiStories and creator of its editorial strategy and original series. She is a longtime contributor to Architectural Digest and Dwell Magazine, and her work has appeared in Domino, Refinery29, Vox, McSweeney’s, Bon Appétit, Food52, Apartment Therapy, and others. She lives in her hometown of Los Angeles.

Kristen Barnhart


Kristen Barnhart is a Dallas-based illustrator, graphic designer, screen printer of apparel, and dabbler in clay creations. She’s inspired by the good, the bad, and the weird feelings that come from being a human. When she’s not making things, she loves to ask questions and pet her cats.

Amy Azzarito


Amy Azzarito is an author writing about design, history, and trends. Her recent book is Elements of a Home: Curious Histories Behind Everyday Household Objects, from Pillows to Forks. She lives in Marin County, California with her husband, Mark, and their toddler, Stella.

Morgan Goldberg


Morgan Goldberg is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. She worked as an editorial assistant at Food & Wine before she spent a year traveling around Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. Her writing is focused on design, home, and food.

Trisha Sprouse


Trisha Sprouse is a Webby award-winning photographer and video producer specializing in DIY content. Her work has been featured on Domino, Hunker, BravoTV, Martha Stewart, and Food52, among others. After a near 20-year stint in Los Angeles, she moved to Jacksonville, Florida with her husband and 4-year-old twins, where they live in an old Colonial home with a small citrus grove.

Brigitt Earley


Brigitt Earley is a freelance writer and editor based in Ridgewood, New Jersey. Her work has been published in a wide range of women’s lifestyle magazines, including Real Simple and Oprah Magazine. When she’s not typing away, she’s likely sprucing up her nearly 100-year-old home, tending to her garden, cooking, putting the finishing touches or her latest needlepoint design, or playing with her children.

Kelsey Clark


Kelsey Clark is a freelance writer and content strategist based in Detroit. Her work has appeared in Domino, Glamour, The Zoe Report, MyDomaine, Who What Wear, Apartment Therapy, and more, and she’s partnered with brands like Bloomscape and Eye Swoon on content strategy and copywriting. When she’s not working, Kelsey is updating her wardrobe, hunting down a new vintage piece for her apartment, or exploring new bars and restaurants across Detroit.

Kat Schneider


Kat Schneider is a freelance illustrator and comics artist who has contributed to The New York Times and The Washington Post, among others. When she’s not drawing, you can find her eating too much chocolate and playing video games. She is currently living, working, and daydreaming in New Jersey with her cat Lou.