A Maximalist/Minimalist Family Ranch in Austin, TX

A Maximalist Minimalist Family Ranch in Austin, on Design*Sponge

A Maximalist/Minimalist Family Ranch in Austin, TX

It was their dream yard “with a house on it that had lots of potential,” explains Suzanna Santostefano of her 1953 ranch in Austin, TX. “I love having a vision of what it can be — and doing it.” She had driven by the home before she and artist husband Mick claimed it for their brood of three small children, two dogs, and five chickens (outside). Back then, she turned a corner to see a beautiful, rolling half-acre backyard with mature oak trees, but wasn’t in a position to buy at the time. Thankfully, it went back on the market six years ago, and it was then that they signed on the dotted line.

After all that time in the space, the family is still in an ever-evolving process of making their house a home. The large, wooded yard now boasts a functional chicken coop. To make the interiors more functional for three kids, handbuilt bunkbeds were installed in one bedroom so two could share, with built-in IKEA closets and a window seat. Next, Suzanna and Mick turned their attention to the kids’ shared bathroom. They took it down to the studs to make the design more streamlined, then built it back up with a double vanity and vintage accessories. Instead of being a six-week project, it morphed into a six-month project with lots of hard-won lessons learned.

The Santostefanos love to fill their house with people, so it needs to feel warm and inviting. In addition to loved ones, they also tend to feature “fun, silly, and weird” objects in their space. Suzanna is always working toward creating “maximalist/minimalist” order in a comfortable environment. The walls are covered in artwork made by Mick and friends, who know to bring back “strange” things from exotic travels to add to their always-growing collection of personal touches. —Annie

Photography by Andrea Calo

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MLK National Day of Service

MLK National Day of Service

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Today is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and in addition to honoring his memory and the legacy of his work, today is also a National Day of Service. Dr. King Jr. said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” and today is a wonderful chance to share some great resources for anyone who is able to use today, or part of today, to do just that — help others.

If you want to help out based on a specific topic or want to find a way to give back a few hours — or just want to find a place you can donate goods or funds — this website lets you type in your area code and find something within 15 miles (or closer) of your home. Just type in your zip code and you’ll be able to find something you can do to give back to your community. My hope is that today’s connections might lead to more regular work and volunteering within our communities that bring greater understanding and dialogue between all of us. xo, grace

Humayrah Poppins Embroidery + Best of the Web

Humayrah Poppins Embroidery + Best of the Web

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Before we head into the weekend, I wanted to share the work of embroidery artist Humayrah Poppins. Humayrah shared a photo of her work in our #dstexture Instagram challenge and I have been turning to her feed ever since for inspiration. After training at the Royal School Of Needlework, Humayrah opened an Etsy shop and makes incredibly detailed (and beaded) embroidery. She’s been posting bits and pieces from her insect collection lately and they are just too beautiful for words. If you need a little bit of inspiration to get you to the weekend, click here to check out her latest work online. Until Monday, have a wonderful weekend! xo, grace

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In the Kitchen With: Bren Herrera’s Espresso and Almond Flan

In the Kitchen With: Bren Herrera’s Espresso and Almond Flan

Espresso and Almond Flan by Bren Herrera | DesignSponge

When asked to list my favorite kitchen tools, the pressure cooker always makes the top three, along with my stand mixer and my food processor. I mostly use the pressure cooker for meat and other savory dishes, however. When I opened private chef and blogger Bren Herrera’s cookbook Modern Pressure Cooking, I was elated to see the dessert chapter! Reading through all of the delicious recipes, I stopped in the flan section and honed in on the Decadent Espresso and Toasted Almond Flan. Cooking time? 16 minutes! Of course it has to chill to set up as it would in any case, but compare 16 minutes to the average one hour it takes in the oven, and it’s hard to find an excuse not to try this. —Kristina

Why Bren loves this recipe: It’s no secret flan is my claim to “fame.” It’s the one dessert I fell in love with as a kid, mostly because my Mother didn’t make it often, and when she did, it was rationed between my 4 siblings and our dad. Imagine that! A 1-quart size flan, split up between 7 people! When I discovered I could make my very own flan in a pressure cooker, not just in the oven in bain-marie, I was all in for making endless amounts of flan. This espresso flan, one of my favorites, was an effortless combination and is a simple reflection of two things that I love: my Cuban heritage and espresso. The espresso salt was a finishing touch I used to offer another layer of espresso taste and add a bit more texture. It creates a decadent balance of sweet and salty. The fact that it’s done in just 16 minutes (including pressure release time) makes this truly liquid gold!

 

Modern Pressure Cooking Cover by Bren Herrera | DesignSponge

Food Photography by Ken Goodman | Cover image by Sam Brown

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14 Door Knockers for a Fresh New Look

14 Door Knockers for a Fresh New Look

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This time of year it’s cold enough here in the Hudson Valley that the idea of doing anything on the outside of our house sounds laughable. There’s so much snow and ice right now that the only sort of outdoor sprucing up I can do involves whatever can be added or tacked on quickly. But this time of year (grey, snowy, cold) is precisely when I feel like a home could use a little pick-me-up. Holiday decorations have come down and things just feel a little empty. So I decided to collect some of my favorite door knockers as a fun way to add some detail to your home’s exterior without having to break out your heavy coat, gloves and a ladder. These cheerful little decorations are functional and cute and are a nice way to add some visual interest in a snap. A bright pink door doesn’t hurt, either. xo, grace

Image above via Tracy Bennison in our #DSPink feed. You can order the bumblebee knocker (so cute!) from the UK for $42.60.

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Full sources and more door knockers continue after the jump!

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Before & After: The Simply Grove Patio Makeover

Before & After: The Simply Grove Patio Makeover, on Design*Sponge

Before & After: The Simply Grove Patio Makeover

When Kirsten Grove first visited her 1957 mid-century modern Boise, ID home, it was the outdoor space that sold her right away. “The patio was an instant win,” Kirsten shares. As an interior stylist and the blogger behind Simply Grove, Kirsten and her husband Shane knew they wanted to find a home in a specific style that they could renovate and make their own, with lots of space for their two kids, as well as entertaining guests. After moving in this past spring, the couple started working on their new-old home immediately. In an effort to make the most of the impending summer, Kirsten and Shane transformed their covered patio from a dated eyesore into a modern entertaining space.

The focus of the design was to divide the space up into distinct but coordinated functions. Black and white paint splits the room in two, with a comfortable lounge seating area defined by an outdoor rug adjacent to the kitchen and dining zone. Furnishings with slender lines in a mix of stylish indoor and durable outdoor pieces keep the patio feeling light and airy, while green planted accessories add life to the cool and calm color scheme. Here’s to warm summer daydreams just around the corner. —Annie

Photography by Hailey Wilson

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Before & After: Barc Gets a Happy Makeover

Barc Before & After for Design*Sponge

Before & After: Barc Gets a Happy Makeover

Brooklyn-based illustrator Hyesu Lee set out to turn a bare wall into a happy place for her local animal shelter, Barc. “Actually, I live nearby Barc shelter and went there every weekend or weekday, after work, to volunteer to walk a dog because I’m a huge animal lover,” Hyesu shares. “However, I didn’t plan on adopting any dogs. And there was this dog, Dutch, that we took out for a walk a lot from Barc. One weekend Vinny, who runs Barc, told us to take him only for the weekend if we want. And ‘only for the weekend’ [became until] now — we ended up adopting him and now he is a beloved member of our family.”

Hyesu continues, “So I went back to Barc recently and volunteered to do [a] mural for them, hoping it helps all the dogs/cats find their ‘furever’ home.” Known for her really fun illustrations for such clients as Toyota, Boston Globe, Blue Moon Brewing Co., Dr. Jart+, Chobani and many more, I’d say Hyesu certainly accomplished her goal, bringing new life into the shelter. Click through the slide show to see her step-by-step process. —Erin 

Photography by Hyesu Lee

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Design*Sponge Sits Down with Electrolux, Pantone and Homepolish

Design*Sponge Sits Down with Electrolux, Pantone and Homepolish

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Image above (clockwise): Design*Sponge Editor: Lauren Chorpening Day, Electrolux Designer: Narss Lapinid, Homepolish Senior Designer: Mandy Cheng, and Pantone Color Institute VP: Laurie Pressman.

Yesterday Design*Sponge led a panel of design industry leaders in a discussion on color at the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) in Orlando, FL. After a week of single-digit temperatures in the midwest, a few days in sunny Florida has been a welcome change. This year KBIS featured 500 prominent brands and their new product lines for designers and builders to learn more about. Electrolux, one of our favorite brands for home appliances, hosted the panel between color experts from Pantone, Homepolish and Electrolux.

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For 40 minutes, I directed questions to Narss Lapinid, the Senior Color, Material and Finish Designer at Electrolux, Laurie Pressman, Vice President of the Pantone Color Institute and Mandy Cheng, a Senior Designer for Homepolish. The panelists spoke on using neutrals vs. bold colors, color trends, color psychology and even new color changes for kitchen appliances. Learning from such a knowledgeable group of people through a thoughtful discussion on color was inspiring.

Laurie used her insight on color psychology to explain why some colors do or don’t work in the home (spoiler: orange will only make you angry or hungry), Mandy offered several real-life examples on using color in clients’ homes, and Narss spoke with excitement about new colorways for products that will give homeowners even more options when redesigning their homes, like the new Frigidaire Gallery Smudge-Proof™ Black Stainless Steel suite of kitchen appliances. And I should mention, this collection of appliances isn’t simply being offered in a new, chic color — the range, which includes two styles of refrigerators, microwave, oven (standard and double), and one stunning dishwasher all feature a modern kitchen must-have: the “no fingerprint” finish.

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Image above: The new Frigidaire Gallery Smudge-Proof™ Black Stainless Steel French Door Refrigerator

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A Northern Norway Home That Isn’t Afraid Of Color

Simone's Northern Norway Home Is Filled With Lots Of Color And Patterns On Design*Sponge

A Northern Norway Home That Isn’t Afraid Of Color

Simone Isaksen and her boyfriend Per-Aksel live in the village of Storslett in northern Norway. Six years ago, when she bought her house, Simone saw the potential in the late 70s home. The house was a good deal, charming, centrally located and she was especially attracted to the big windows in the living room. This last feature is even more important when you live in an area where autumn is marked by rapidly shortening days, the wettest season of the year, and which includes the first half of winter and mørketiden – the dark time – from around October through January.

Their home has three bedrooms (one of which Simone has been able to turn into a walk-in closet) as well as a downstairs apartment that they rent out. This added revenue facilitated Simone’s ability to follow her dream of opening a home goods store, Lykkehjornet (which means “Happy Corner” in English), which she feels is “the best job in the world!” One of the best parts of the house is the fact that it’s close to Simone’s shop, and anywhere else she needs to go — to the point that the couple doesn’t need to have a car. Ideal for Simone, because she still hasn’t gotten her driver’s license!

While some of us may initially visualize Norwegian style as being filled with minimalism, neutrals, and bleached wood, Simone’s home proves that not everyone adheres to that same look. Every corner of Simone and Per-Aksel’s home is fun, happy and energizing. It feels like the perfect answer to any creativity blocks you could possibly be feeling. The couple has worked hard to be budget-savvy with their updates and to banish white wherever they can. Their two cats Lilly and Sophie are perfectly at home in their colorful respite. —Rebekah 

Photography by Simone Isaksen

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Shop Tour: Portland’s Little Garage Shop

Little Garage Shop studio tour on Design*Sponge

Shop Tour: Portland’s Little Garage Shop

Portland, OR’s artisan community has long been known for its ingenuity and perseverance. Which is a good thing, seeing as how those qualities are being called upon more than ever lately as new development is reaching a feverish pitch that’s seeing longtime art studio spaces razed for luxury apartment complexes — and rents are reaching all-time highs. Local artists and makers are finding themselves pushed out as affordable studio space becomes ever more scarce.

Luckily for Thomas Renaud and Noel Hennessy of Little Garage Shop, they’ve come upon a quirky and ingenious solution. You may have already guessed it from their name, but the couple came upon the idea of utilizing their garage as a way to present their wares to the public while using their basement for their studio space. By using some of their living space to produce and showcase their ceramics, textiles, room sprays and candles, they’ve cut costs that might have otherwise thwarted their fledgling housewares business. Which is good news for design fans as their ceramics and textiles feature beautiful color palettes, details and finishes that set them apart from other lines.

Noel and Thomas are originally from Eastern Washington state and Miami, FL, respectively. Both lived in New York City for many years, Noel spending his time on opening and running the St. Helen Cafe and lifestyle brand S.A.V.E.D., while Thomas worked in marketing and advertising. However, it wasn’t until they both moved to Los Angeles, CA that their paths crossed. With Noel looking to reconnect with his roots in the Pacific Northwest, they made the decision to relocate to Portland. It wasn’t long after their move that Thomas rediscovered his love of ceramics after a 15-year hiatus, and realized designing and producing ceramics was where he wanted to devote his time.

In looking for a space to live, the couple settled on the northeast quadrant of Portland, which they felt would provide the quiet neighborhood and artistic community they sought. After living in large metropolis cities for more than a decade, their main concern was space for their dog, Bear, and room to create an in-home studio where Thomas could work on his ceramics. Thomas shares, “In the beginning, we were utilizing the basement as our shared studio space and the garage acted as an overflow space for bigger projects. We have been collaborating on each other’s work for quite some time, and had been talking about starting a business together. Having a shared studio space seemed very natural and it was a great way to keep our overhead low.”

It wasn’t long before they realized the garage could act as a showroom for their creations, too. Thomas explains how the idea came to be fully realized: “One afternoon, we decided to convert the garage into a pseudo retail space to test out some of the work we had been developing. The amount of interest and positive feedback we were getting from other artists and people in the neighborhood really helped to propel us forward. Rolling the garage door up for the first time last December, Little Garage Shop was born.”

Little Garage Shop is only open a few times a year for special sales, but those who are able to make it to those few occasions will find it’s a real treat. Perhaps one of the cleanest garages ever, getting to see all of Little Garage Shop’s wares expertly displayed while chatting with Noel and Thomas about how each item is made makes for a truly special experience. If you can’t make it to one of Little Garage Shop’s rare openings, never fear, as they’re known to pop up at local sales including Portland’s Renegade Craft Fair and the Portland Flea, which is held the last Sunday of each month. Or you can always peruse their online shop. — Allison

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Thinking Beyond the Basics For Your Business

Thinking Beyond the Basics For Your Business

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Last week we explored some important ways to make a great first impression for your business in the new year. But, do be aware that first impressions don’t last forever! Personal and memorable follow-up is as important as that very first “hello.” In a world of disposable everything and nonstop feeds, it’s paramount to have a strategy for high-touch contact with customers that’s genuine and takes them to a moment of real-time smiles delivered directly from you, the human behind your business.

While high-touch customer contact may seem daunting on top of all of the other aspects of running your own business (and social feeds, and production, and accounts receivable…), spending a day planning it out on a quarterly basis takes the stress out of what can feel like just another to-do.

This planning day is the time to have fun, remember why you started your business and share that joy and playfulness with your current and future customers. Here’s a real-life story that should drive this point home:

I discovered illustrator Jordan Sondler years ago and after visiting her website to see more of her work, I noticed that she had a sign-up for “snail mail.” Of course, I signed up and anxiously awaited a delivery. She had me at the novelty (and thoughtfulness) of a special delivery of a piece of physical mail that I would actually look forward to!

Lo and behold, a few weeks later a handwritten enveloped appeared, stuffed with stickers of some of her illustrations and a handwritten note simply telling me to have a nice day. I’ll never forget that.

This is what you’re going for.

Click through to read more about a simple, quarterly plan to connect emotionally with your current and future customer base and some quality products that can help you make someone smile. –Caitlin

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This post is brought to you by Carda. Carda makes cards worth keeping. Visit Carda’s shop to see all of their products, including eco-friendly packaging, packaging tags, notecards, name cards, mini cards and stickers.

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Studio Tour: Water House

Our main seating area is where we get together as a team and also where each company working out of Water House meets with clients and freelancers.

Studio Tour: Water House

It sometimes feels unreal that my husband, Austin Day, and I get to work out of this photo studio with another couple, Dave and Mariah Poyzer. The studio fell into our laps one day via Craigslist. It was being rented by a prop stylist that was moving out of state and needed a short-term sublet with the option of taking over the lease after hers was over. At the time, Austin was growing out of his studio and I was transitioning from full-time employment with a side-business to freelancing full-time. We knew Dave and Mariah would be business savvy, easy to work with, and had growing businesses in need of a studio as well. After inviting the Poyzers to share it with us, we signed the lease and started making it our home away from home. The four of us created an LLC and named the Des Moines, IA studio Water House.

The building was built in 1900 as a water pumping station to communities north of Des Moines. At the start of WWII, it was rerouted to pump water to a John Deere plant that produced US military vehicles during wartime. After the war, the building was abandoned. Our landlords bought the condemned building in 2002. In 2006 they completely gutted and remodeled it into a fully functioning commercial photography studio. The three-foot-circumference pipes in the floor that had pumped water out of the building were compressed and covered with new concrete. New electrical, HVAC and windows were added to the space, and chipped paint was power-washed off of the brick. Walls were put up to add a kitchen and an office to the large, empty space. The tall ceilings, concrete floors, natural light, storage space and open studio area have made this building ideal for a videographer, two photographers and a photo stylist all sharing the space.

Making Water House a functional and beautiful environment for photo shoots and client meetings was a priority when we got the keys a year ago. We repurposed furniture we already owned, bought some things new and added interest with color in textiles and accents. Austin even built a moveable, two-sided wall to use for set backdrops so we can paint and repaint the walls any colors we need without messing with our actual walls. The 170-square-foot office area has been turned into floor-to-ceiling photo prop, surface and furniture storage. The 200-square-foot kitchen is barebones, but has all of the necessary appliances and counter space for food styling and prep for food photography. Water House is constantly changing furniture pieces, artwork and accessories depending on new pieces we’ve received or props that we need to find a place for.

The Water House studio has created its own growing community. We are in and out of the studio, using a calendar to block out the time when each one of us needs the space. Our landlords allow us to rent the space to other photographers and for events. We absolutely love getting to share our space with other people that will love it and use it well when we don’t need it. This last year, a church even met in our studio every Sunday morning. The four of us have been able to take on larger projects, new clients and create things that we wouldn’t have been able to without such an incredible studio. We feel so unbelievably fortunate to have this space for ourselves and for our communities. –Lauren

Photography by Austin Day

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13 Homes That Make the Most Out of Skimpy Square Footage

In Manhattan, Kiel's tiny studio doesn't run short of smart, attractive design choices. A wall sconce and mini wall ledge balance out the other side of his bed where space is nonexistent, creating visual harmony. Above, a functional pegboard is at once genius (no spackling holes when rearranging his gallery wall) and a great way to display many items without them cluttering surfaces in a small home.

13 Homes That Make the Most Out of Skimpy Square Footage

When you live in a small home, it goes without saying that space planning and organization are key. The size of a piece of furniture — or its placement — can make a space either feel cramped or deceptively spacious depending on the decorative path you choose.

Of course we here at Design*Sponge believe there are no rules in interior design, but we definitely champion the tricks and hacks that serve as tried and true ways to improve your home — especially when it comes to living in tight quarters. We’ve rounded up 13 homes that make their tiny spaces look anything but — and all of these homes are 800 square feet or less — to show that no matter your dwelling, you can make anything work. —Kelli

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A Dark and Moody Home in England

A charming art-filled home with dark and moody walls on Design*Sponge.

A Dark and Moody Home in England

With historic details as the backdrop of their art-filled home, Nadia and Mark Singleton live in a 1,500-square-foot dwelling in Leicestershire, England. Built in 1919, their space is full of charming fireplaces, unique details, and dark, moody walls.

Nadia runs a 3D printing business that produces prototypes for product designers, jewelry designers, artists, and sculptors. Before that, Nadia worked as a scenic artist and prop maker, painting backdrops for theaters around the country. Her husband is a financial adviser and encourages her passion for expressing herself in the home. Together they have two teenage sons. Their youngest son loves math and science, while their oldest son is artistic, creative, and is also autistic. He can be loud and excited at times, Nadia says, so they wanted to build a home that could function well for him. “We need to be able to have our own areas and he does too,” Nadia explains.

“Our house, like many, is an ongoing project,” Nadia shares. “It started life as a small, two-bed house and over the years has morphed into a four-bed house, with some additions and changes of our own.” From making the space work for her family, to literally using it as a canvas, Nadia’s creative touches make her home feel personal and completely unique. —Tawnee

Photography by Nadia Singleton

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A Comfortable, Colorful Cave for Paleo People in Atlanta

A Comfortable, Colorful Cave for Paleo People in Atlanta, on Design*Sponge

A Comfortable, Colorful Cave for Paleo People in Atlanta

Bicoastal design duo Holly Conlan and Gabriela Eisenhart of Wake + Loom met Sarah and Pete Servold, owners of Pete’s Paleo, as they were relocating back to Atlanta, GA from San Francisco, CA. The family, along with three-year-old daughter Lois, was in need of some help pulling their next house together  a 1940s whitewashed brick stunner in the quiet yet centrally-located neighborhood of Virginia-Highland. To start, Holly and Gabriela focused mainly on the family room, dining room, kitchen, patio, and master bedroom, lightening up walls and making the space feel more open. Sarah and Pete wanted a modern, elegant home with a bit of a mid-century twist, and the designers gave them a stylish facelift all in three months’ time.

With entertaining and kids’ considerations at the top of the Servolds’ must-have list, Holly and Gabriela combined vintage and contemporary pieces with lots of client Sarah’s own colorful photography, inspiring certain bold color palettes of decorative accents. Lighting choices throughout the space create a unique energy fusing new and old (but not prehistoric) together, resulting in a thoroughly modern abode for these primal entrepreneurs. —Annie

Photography by Jaki Hawthorne

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