If numbers tell the story, 2013 could be cause for optimism, though knocking on wood may be advisable. As of this writing, the Architecture Billings Index is up for the sixth consecutive month. The list of improving markets has lengthened for the sixthmonth running. Starts and permits are up, and the builder confidence index is at its highest level in almost seven years.

Many of you report that 2013 feels like a fresh start, too. But whether it’s in Austin, Texas, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, or Minneapolis, even the rosiest outlooks are tempered with this refrain—that an eagle eye on the market and precise,cautious business strategies are more important than ever.

This issue marks a fresh start for custom home, as well. It’s our debut as a quarterly in a package that’s visually enriched, thanks to a redesign by Hanley Wood’s chief design director Gillian Berenson. Still, we’re holding tight to what has always been great about this magazine. As before, we’ll bring you the very best in custom home design. As before, you’ll find valuable leads on top-of-the-line products, smart advice on best practices, and good scoop on up-and-comers. As before, experts in the field, including contributing editors Bruce D. Snider and Cheryl Weber, will turn you on to their favorite discoveries.

In the world of food, the seasons are a heavy driver of editorial content. In the home building space, thinking seasonally assumes more permanence, for the obvious reason that building a house takes a lot more time, investment, and resources than cooking a meal. But great food and shelter have more in common than is at first apparent because both are about living well. On any given day, your job involves filling many—some days it probably feels like way too many—roles. But a big reason you keep doing what you do is to help clients live the best life they can, in the best place possible.

It’s also the reason you’re reading this magazine, and we’re glad you’re here. Join us at customhomeonline.com or on Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Facebook, and please weigh in on what you think of the redesign. In the meantime, here’s to fresh starts.

Amy Albert