As cooler temperatures creep in, I like to add candles to small spaces around our house where a little glow can make things feel warmer. When it comes to candles I like anything simple and not too strong, but when it comes to matches, I like a bold or unexpected design. Whether it’s a super long match with a patterned box or something mini and a little funky on the outside, matches are always a fun way to sneak something a little different into a room. I spent some time shopping online, and today I’m sharing 9 of my favorites — from hand-stitched celebrations of awesome women to shiny geometric patterns and sophisticated Florentine motifs. xo, grace
This is the time of year when I relish the gazillion varieties of apples available from our local orchard, Rellim. We’ve noticed the table isn’t the only place apples are showing up these days. The apple motif is popping up everywhere, and we thought it would be fun to round up some of our favorite apple themed products alongside two delicious apple pie recipes. One recipe is an amazing gluten-free hand pie that you’ll love, and the other is a rustic take on the seasonal pie from fellow West Virginian Katie Lee, co-host of Food Network’s show, The Kitchen.
Click through after the jump for more of our apple motif favorites and two recipes you should try before apple season is over! –Caitlin
There’s a misconception that urban farming is this new, hip movement, but it’s more of a revival. During World War II, cities were speckled with “Victory Gardens,” and growing your own food was a patriotic duty (a movement which also yielded some amazing poster designs… Google those later). With the onset of industrialized food systems and improvements in refrigeration, apples began to travel more than pilots, and urban agriculture moved to the countryside, where it was out of sight and out of mind.
With the slew of environmental and food insecurity issues we currently face, reviving urban agriculture is a must. I recommend following these 10 urban farmers on Instagram as a way to connect more to food sources, to rethink sustainability in urban design and to find ways to support local agriculture. Additionally, I suggest leaving words of encouragement and gratitude in their photo comments. Farming, whether urban or rural, seems charming from the outside, but it’s a daily battle against critters, the elements, industrialization and physical exhaustion. Yet, without these crusaders, we could kiss those sweet, sweet tomatoes goodbye!
This roundup is merely scratching the surface, so be sure to tell me who else in the urban agriculture world inspires you. I am all ears. —Quelcy
We’re seeing so many deep, lovely blues this season, and this pattern reminds me of just how gorgeous blues and browns are when paired together. Brown is rarely in the spotlight, but capturing the depth and charm of this color beyond natural wood pieces is definitely possible. We’re noticing neutrals are integrating more off-whites and taupes into the ever-popular bright white and grey lineup. The browns used here perfectly capture the green and yellow undertones of such an earthy shade. —Caitlin
I love getting into a new embroidery project — it is SO satisfying to see it progress, and often I can’t help but run my fingers over the new stitches. Recently I stumbled upon Jans Schwester‘s embroidery on Pinterest and fell in love with her gorgeous floral embroidered strainers. Once I started looking, I discovered even more amazing embroidery on strainers, colanders, and screen windows and doors, so I decided to give it a try myself!
I ended up stitching all my strainers using geometric shapes as inspiration, but in ombre colors for a bit of interest. These three pieces were not quick to complete, but once you get going they’re quite simple and are great to work on while binge-watching your favorite show, riding public transit, or just having a relaxing day at home. The blue strainer is 7 inches across and took me four or five hours to complete; the smaller green one took about three hours, and the vintage colander took less than one hour. Don’t let the timing intimidate you though — as with most embroidery, the process can be a bit slow, but the results are so unique. I now admire my strainers every time I walk into my kitchen. —Kathleen
With the holidays right around the corner, I’ve found myself in the bowels of my kitchen counting everything from butter knives to coffee cups and searching for obscure (for my family) pieces like pie servers and salad tongs. We’re a pretty low maintenance family when it comes to everyday meals and our silverware rarely matches. I’m totally okay with that. But… I recently bought my first home and was able to set up a really long eating area with two of my favorite matching tables that have been in storage forever. I know that I now have as close to a “forever” home as I’m going to get, and I want to have friends and family gather dinner-party style — so I’m hosting for the holidays. I’m pretty darn excited!
Nearly everything in my home is secondhand and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m a frequent buyer at yard sales and Goodwill, but I do have a weakness for estate sales. It’s not just the excitement of the bidding process, it’s really much more about the stories I imagine from the pieces for sale whether or not I bid, win them or take them home. Even the rather antiquated term “estate” gets my history-loving heart beating a bit faster.
Another aspect of the estate sale I love is the utility of it. It never feels like the process of liquidation is all about money. Perhaps I’ve romanticized it, but it feels more like a passing on of special things than an eBay sale. You get to see a snapshot of a life well spent, filled with shiny kitchenware or a collection of brass animals. This I love.
Now, the actual experience of the estate sale is another story. I hate waiting and spending an entire day to perhaps come away with a beautiful Indian headdress or a vintage doll collection. Now that I’m a mom, that’s simply not an option. I’ve tried other online options, but they don’t fit the bill as far as mimicking the experience of an actual estate sale. eBay doesn’t do it for me, and I can’t stand the over-marketing of the higher-end sites out there. I’m not on the site to find an object that will complete my boho living room — I’m there to find a special piece that tells a story and that I can weave into my own home and family story. I want to feel like an anthropologist, not a consumer in search of the perfect sheepskin rug.
That’s when I happily discovered EBTH, aka Everything But The House. It is my new happy place. It gets me and respects my need to be simply presented to in an educated, concise manner. I don’t have to block out huge photos of interiors or headlines that show me collections like “Hollywood Chic” or “Farmhouse Glam.” That’s what we do here. What I want (and need) is a quiet, clean warehouse to browse through, with my own private cubby where I can store my favorites and make bid and purchase choices at my leisure. Therefore, I’ve fallen hard for EBTH.
Below are some of my recent favorites that I’ve been eyeing for my home. These sales have closed, but I have some more favorites I am actually waiting to bid on in the slideshow on the full post page. This week we’re focusing on our tabletop obsessions, but we’re returning for the next three weeks to bring you our favorites in a couple of different categories because the selection of vintage furniture, decor, lighting, fashion and jewelry is amazing. We’re also giving away a $500 gift card! See details on that below and after the jump. –Caitlin
1. Schlaggenwald Modernist Style Orange and White Ceramic Dish Set / Winning Bid $71 | 2. Noritake China Luncheon Plates with Cups / Winning Bid $7 | 3. Bohemian Style Cut Glass Stemware / Winning Bid $38 | 4. Collection of Napkin Rings / Winning Bid $55 | Vintage Tea Collection / Winning Bid $30
Click through to see our current favorites and for your chance to win a $500 gift card to spend on EBTH. Seriously – $500 to spend in the land of vintage heaven!
I discovered Quiet Town Home the old fashioned way: through a tried and true Google search. I had just decided to see my dream of a pink bathroom through, and I knew that whatever shower curtain I landed on could very well dictate the rest of the space, just like a great sofa or rug can inspire an entire living room. After searching for results with the term “pink organic cotton shower curtain,” I stumbled on a link for their Narlai Sunset shower curtain — the piece that ultimately inspired the design of my entire bathroom.
Despite the name, Quiet Town Home co-founders Michael and Lisa live in the not-so-quiet neighborhood of Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn, NY with their two children, Indigo and Sunny. Ambivalence and a desire to do good is what inspired Lisa and Michael Fine to start Quiet Town Home in early 2016. Tired of buying things they needed, but didn’t love, they set out to bring beauty and ethics to the utilitarian world of bathroom accessories and necessities, reinventing the things you typically throw into your shopping cart with a shrug. “We launched Quiet Town because we couldn’t find anything we liked for our bathroom,” Lisa explains. “As a renter in a city famous for small dwellings, you never really get GREAT bathrooms, so having the right accessories makes a huge difference. We figured if we were feeling at a loss, then other people must be too.”
And just as quickly as the thought came to them, so too did their workshop come together. A fashion and lifestyle photographer, Michael already had a great photo studio with high ceilings and tons of natural light — and as a new company, it simply made sense to stay lean and launch Quiet Town Home from there. In just 350 square feet, they managed to fit in a showroom, fulfillment center, and office — and they put it all together in just one day. “We had a store coming — our first showroom visit — and we had to transform the space the day after we got back from vacation. It was kid of hilarious!” Lisa admits. “We had been putting the pieces of this business together for about five years; collecting inspiration, making samples, sketching — so all of the elements were there to really make the space look authentically used. And of course, the product fills it with color and texture which helped a lot.”
Located right on the Gowanus Canal, their studio/workspace is just a few blocks away from their home, and smack in-between is their kids’ school, so life for the Fines is pretty neatly tied up in this area. However, it was important to Michael and Lisa to branch out with Quiet Town Home in order to source the most ethical and organic materials. With transparency and high design at the heart of all they do, their organic fabrics are sourced from India, small-batch dyed in Los Angeles, and finally, sewed together in Brooklyn.
Although the company is fairly young, Lisa and Michael have hit the ground running and it’s simply a matter of time before they’re forced to find a dedicated studio. But for now, their scrappy setup is perfect for their family and their needs. –Sabrina
Photography by Michael Fine
When Pantone announced their Fall 2017 color lineup, I giggled at their inclusion of the peppy purple hue, Bodacious. Since then, I’ve seen this color everywhere. Penelope’s use of the shade in this pattern just adds a layer of happiness to the fall bird migration — which sometimes puts me in a melancholy mood as I say goodbye to my feathered friends flying south for the winter. No longer! Now I have a wonderful vision of them heading off on a fun-filled vacation full of tropical lushness and bird cocktail parties. —Caitlin
In this last sneak peek into the book Designing Your Life, we’re going to be examining the process of choosing. As the book points out, most of us fall victim to negative thinking when overwhelmed with life decisions, and the voice inside our heads issues ultimatums that get in the way of being the architects of our own lives. We hear things like “To be happy, I have to make the right choice.”, instead of “There is no right choice — only good choosing.” But how, exactly, does one make a good choice?
You’ll remember that in last week’s exercise, we created a mind map with one idea at the center and free form off-shoot words that connected to that central concept. This was an exercise in letting your mind run free and literally just generating associations. Once we got a few layers of words outside the center concept, our brains were emotionally disconnected from that meaningful central concept and that allowed us to objectively come up with some actionable ways we could get closer to, and test out, real life situations that would put us closer to that meaningful center concept.
Today we’re going to go through the simple process and steps of the life design choosing process. The choosing process has four steps, so click through to see them in order and learn how to put them into motion for your life design. –Caitlin
Image above via GIPHY
This post is brought to you in collaboration with Designing Your Life. All words and experiences are my own and I highly recommend this book as a tool for moving forward into a thoughtful, considered life that you’ve designed.
There are plenty of tips and anecdotes and case studies and advice for “Creatives,” and a lot of it is very good stuff, but sometimes it feels like too much to digest. This month I thought I would focus on some base elements. Eight simple, maybe obvious things that are worth remembering. If you can look past the clickbait headline – #5 Made Me Laugh ‘Til I Cried! – one or all of these might be an important reminder for right now.
This month actually marks my one-year anniversary of writing monthly guides for Design*Sponge, and I am just so happy to be a part of this family. I can sentimentalize anything (and am literally writing this on my birthday) so bear with me as I use some of the items on this list to reflect on past guides that dig deeper in a few similar directions. –Adam J. Kurtz
There’s a neighborhood in Pittsburgh, PA where the rusting metal of an abandoned steel mill still stands, a symbol of both what the city was and the potential it has for reinvention. Like its mill, the area of Hazelwood seems rough around the edges, but if you meet a few residents, it’s all too easy to become smitten with the tight-knit neighborhood. This was the case for Dylan Rooke, who had heard of an available fixer-upper, met some neighbors, and fell for the passionate community.
He had also fallen head over heels for an unforgettable woman in Missouri. He was the touring musician, and Amber was the venue manager. Sparks and heart-eyes later, Amber and her trusty dog Emma traded the Bible Belt for the Rust Belt. Dylan and Amber married on a family farm near Pittsburgh, and the fixer-upper in Hazelwood is a result of the couple’s combination of design and building talents.
Old homes in Pittsburgh have their fair share of charms, but the utility bills are rarely one of them, so step one was to install a new, energy-efficient boiler system. The couple made enough cosmetic upgrades to move in and have been remodeling room by room for the last three years. The pair has a knack for salvaging and curb-picking, so most of the furniture has been reclaimed and upgraded. This also speaks to the Rookes’ commitment to sustainability and hands-on design. With each passing season their home becomes more of an urban homestead. Their big yard plays host to six raised garden beds, a chicken coop and a hive of bees.
The garden has not only provided fresh produce, but it has connected the Rookes to their neighbors, both young and old. The neighborhood kids are frequently found in the backyard learning to harvest greens or pronounce new vegetables. Amber is an inspired educator when it comes to healthy and sustainable living. She worked for years at a nonprofit organization and had the kids digging in the dirt, hiking and choosing garden-fresh veggies over sugary snacks.
The backyard also features their workshop, which will come in even handier as the two embark on their next chapter of collaboration. Dylan and Amber are combining their passions for design, building and sustainability in their new business, Rooke Creative, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store! —Quelcy
Photography by Quelcy Kogel
I definitely dream in color, and sometimes I wake up and try to capture the colors in a journal next to my bed. This pattern reminds me of one of those dreams, filled with sublime greens and my favorite shape of leaf. I just want to dive into the dark green and swim around in my own private sea of nature. Penelope just gets me. —Caitlin
If you missed yesterday’s pattern, click here . *Please note these patterns are for personal use only.
I do a bit of interior design work on the side, and I don’t think there’s been a project yet where I haven’t used grey. I love it for walls, bookshelves, furniture, floors — anything. My son’s room is, by far, my favorite room in my house and not because I feel a sense of nostalgia when I’m in his room, but because of his grey walls. His room is painted “Sweatshirt Grey” from Benjamin Moore, and there’s part of me that would paint my whole house that shade if I could get away with it. I’ll just be over here, dreaming about a whole grey home, while taking in this roundup of fantastic grey interiors and our favorite uses of grey in decor. —Erin
Coziness doesn’t always mean lumpy beds, blankets, layering and such. Sometimes coziness a feeling. Like slipping into the perfect pair of jeans, a cozy space fits the owner perfectly, no matter the style. Hair stylist/blogger Lauren Wendt Bremer and her painter/graphic artist husband Matthew’s rental in Chicago’s Avondale neighborhood is one such place. Instead of piling on the decorations in hopes of creating a cozy retreat, they’ve designed a space that fits them like a glove through restrained design touches and a strategic use of color.
At 850 square feet, the two-bedroom space isn’t huge. Minimally decorating each room has proven an invaluable way to keep the floor plan open, giving the home the illusion of being larger. Those few accessories that did make it into the apartment are a combination of the twosome’s aesthetic: Scandinavian and 70s retro. Luckily, Chicago offers many shops that specialize in those two looks, and the Avondale apartment has become a showroom for some of the city’s best stores: South Loop Loft, Humboldt House and Alapash. As you’ll see, Lauren and Matthew went through and thoughtfully handpicked colorful textiles and sumptuous leather goods from each that are big on style, not size.
To further streamline the look and help each room flow into one another, the couple used only two paint colors throughout their nest. The base white hue is warm and clean. It perfectly fits any decoration the couple throws at it and bounces light around the home in such a wonderfully calming way. The warm white is offset by pops of a rich, onyx-black tone. With such a bold hue, Lauren and Matthew knew they would have to be strategic in their use of it: an accent wall here, a cabinet backing there. The paint job has proven to be a subtle and refined way to tie each room together and add visual interest without adding clutter. Click through to see exactly where they peppered in the moody color and to ogle over the entire cozy, yet minimal abode. Enjoy! —Garrett
Photography by Carolina Rodriguez
When Chris and Julia Marcum, a marketing consultant and blogger, respectively, made the move to Idaho three years ago, there were a total of just six houses available for sale in their price range. Coming from Pittsburgh, PA — where Julia grew up and where they bought their first house — the lack of options initially brought some worry. “When buying our first home [in Pittsburgh], we looked at close to 90 homes, so there was a stark contrast in the sheer number of homes available that being picky about the style of home wasn’t so much a luxury,” Julia explains. “It wasn’t like moving to Pittsburgh and having to choose between boroughs or a Craftsman or Victorian.” But as the couple pulled up to this 3,200-square-foot Rambler-style home, the mature trees that lined the quiet street gave them hope. And while the outdated interior may have scared some off, Chris and Julia reveled in its potential to become the perfect family home to raise their two daughters, Greta (six) and Faye (two), as well as Charly, their Saint Pyrenees.
Upon moving in, they made a few immediate changes to help it feel like home, such as hanging art, tossing cozy throws over the side of the couch, and filling their home with plenty of new friends, “but I think what really helps a house feel like a home,” Julia begins, “is when it starts functioning the way you function. Maybe that’s having a small, convenient workspace on the main floor so you can be with your kids while answering emails.”
The largest project they took on, one that immediately brought the house into “forever home” territory, was the kitchen renovation they tackled in just seven weeks by themselves. After saving for it for nearly two years, they were anxious to get started — and not only did they gut it completely and re-jig the layout, but they also removed the adjacent bathroom and replaced it with a laundry room. “It was freeing, scary and exciting,” but now that it’s done, the space functions for the family better and brings them pride to be able to welcome dozens of friends over and treat them to a good meal. “I’ve always been a homebody and Chris loves to entertain, so we have people over several times a week,” Julia shares. “Almost every morning, at breakfast, our six-year-old, Greta, will ask ‘Who’s coming over for dinner?’ and it makes both of us smile proudly. Opening our home to others is a big part of what makes our lives full.”
While many rooms have a new lease on life thanks to Chris and Julia’s hard work, there are still areas on the to-do list, namely their master bathroom. “The layout leaves a lot to be desired, with a toilet closet in the middle of the room and a tiny shower shoved in the corner — it’s going to be a ton of work, and we’re taking our time to work out all the details before we’re at that point of no return — without a bathroom!”
Julia and Chris have learned to “look at checking each item off the list as a victory instead of waiting for a whole room or our whole home to be ‘done’ before celebrating,” Julia says. “‘Hey! That paint color really works!’ Celebrate. ‘That piece of art works so much better in here.’ Celebrate. ‘We finally replaced that terrible boob light.’ Celebrate. We’ve had a lot of those moments of panic and uncertainty, sometimes resulting in do-overs, but mostly we surprise even ourselves.”
For the couple, looking at where this house came from three years ago (generic, dark, and outdated) to now (family-friendly and functional, bordering modern and traditional), and knowing they did it all themselves for their family, puts a smile on their faces every day. “Our house was pretty ordinary when we moved in… But I think what makes this home special is that we made it special,” Julia shares. “… I feel like every home deserves love.” –Sabrina
Photography by Julia Marcum
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