Before & After: Bronson Canyon Home Makeover

Before & After: Bronson Canyon Home Makeover, on Design*Sponge

Before & After: Bronson Canyon Home Makeover

Just a few months after Mimi Choi and Brenden Schaefer purchased their Bronson Canyon, CA home, the couple approached ModOp Design to help prepare the residence for their next major life change — baby Mia’s arrival. Firm principals Alexandra Becket and Greg Steinberg, who focus on the architectural restoration and mindful updating of mid-century modern structures, were excited by the possibilities for the 1946 2,200-square-foot Hollywood Hills house. During the course of the job, the team fully overhauled a bonus room above the garage (affectionately nicknamed “the barn”) by exposing the pitched roof, and adding skylights and larger windows to create a spot brimming with sunshine. Additionally, custom seating was crafted with the utility of a built-in storage bench. They also covered a spiral stairwell in spirited wallpaper with help from the good folks at Hygge & West, who were kind enough to scale up a Julia Rothman wallcovering pattern to better suit the area’s generous height. Finally, the dirty work — three bathrooms were gutted and finished with Heath Ceramics subway tile in different colorways, giving each space a distinctive personality, but sharing a common thread throughout.

With a six-month timeline before the family’s newest member would arrive, the design duo’s biggest challenge was staying on top of the contractor and crew to get the project finished before her birth. They began the fast-paced task by proposing how best to reconfigure the bonus room and bathrooms to make use of their square footage and maximize available daylight. Pinterest was an essential tool in exchanging images amongst the group. Becket and Steinberg would use it to propose ideas, which they pulled from their inspiration boards, their own previous projects, and from online searches of visual stimuli. The designers created boards for each room that would include pins for layout suggestions, vanity options, tile schemes, and products from which to choose. They then sorted through collections with the homeowners and edited down to the final selections.

Once construction began, the upstairs bathrooms were remodeled first so that Choi and Schaefer could live downstairs temporarily. When that work was mostly finished, the downstairs guest bathroom took center stage, as did reviving the bonus room and stairwell. The designers were thankful to have clients who brought a lot of their own creative ideas to the table, and who were very collaborative in the project’s development and decision-making processes. This close partnership, along with the presence of a bubbly resident infant, compel the proud new parents to say, “What was once a house now feels like our home.” —Annie

“After” photography by Charmaine David

 

 

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A Chicago Family’s Victorian Cottage

A Chicago Family's Victorian Cottage, Design*Sponge

A Chicago Family’s Victorian Cottage

Andersonville is one of my favorite neighborhoods here in Chicago, IL. The Swedish community not only has some of the most fabulous design shops in town, but my friends and I look forward to its Midsommarfest every year. The family-friendly and artistic neighborhood north of downtown is not only perfect in my eyes, but turned out to be the perfect spot for Angela, Gene, Enzo and Luca when they decided to move eight years ago. Their quaint cottage is a master class in how good things can come in small packages. According to Angela, the lots in Andyville – as my friends and I call it – are so close together “you could honestly pass a cup of sugar to your neighbor.” This presented a unique set of design challenges that Angela and Gene attacked head-on after moving in.

Determined to make the home feel larger and brighter, the family decked out their entire 1890s Victorian in shades of barely-there grey. Before this, “each room was painted a different color and every room had a different colored floor,” creating a disparate and uninvitingly dark feel. This new paint job, however, was just the beginning. From the get-go the family wanted a Scandinavian aesthetic with light floors, a lot of candles and a fireplace, but how exactly that would come together was up to the home itself. Angela let the home speak to her for a year before making any big decorating decisions. I have seen the results and think you’ll agree that a year’s worth of design development has resulted in a refined and warm place to call home. Click through to check it out. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Amber Hampton

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An Artistic Couple’s Toronto Home

"The first thing we did was have my cabinet maker put in our custom built-ins for the library/office/studio space. Michael has a substantial collection of books and we needed storage and a place for us both to work," says Lori. "We were coming from an apartment where we each had separate working spaces so this was a bit of an adjustment. Luckily the room is spacious and with the wrap around desk - it works really well."

An Artistic Couple’s Toronto Home

Relationships in which both people encourage each other’s passions and dreams just seem to work a little better. When Lori stepped out of the 9-to-5 to become a full-time artist, her husband Michael couldn’t have been more excited. Finding a home that would give them the studio space and creative vibes they were looking for was challenging but they have found a home that supports both of them well.

Lori, artist, designer and entrepreneur, and Michael Harrison, organizational designer moved into this home 3 years ago. The building had been a co-op in the 1950s and transformed into apartments in 2010. “After looking at a dozen other condos when I saw our home, I instantly knew this was the one,” says Lori. “It was so different than all the others, it had just recently been renovated and was done so beautifully and so me.” From there, Lori and Michael have used their combined creativity to make a space that is minimally designed with lovely personal accents throughout. “My goal was to create a home that reflected both Michael and my aesthetic and a space that honored our treasured things. The process of making our space a home is one of my favorite things to do. I love nesting.”

Like any form of creating, there is a trial an error process in making a space into a home. “One challenge we had was with art. We have quite a collection and in our old apartment we created an art wall which worked beautifully to minimize less desirable pieces and highlight others. We thought we would try a similar effect in our new hallway area,” says Lori. “We spent most of the day hanging something like 25 pieces of art all measured and spaced out perfectly and when we were finished we looked at it, looked at each other and said, ‘crap, it totally doesn’t work!’ So we spent the next day taking it all down, filling all the holes and painting the entire wall. Sometimes there is just no way to know for sure unless you try it.” Their gorgeous home is beaming with creative energy and seems to be a place they can both live and work to the fullest.

Photography by Stacey Brandford and Courntey Lee Photography

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DIY Printed Table Runner

DIY Printed Table Runner

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I’ve always liked the idea of fabric printing and painting, but being a lover of a somewhat more muted color palette, I’ve more often than not been put off by the limited color choice of readymade fabric products.

With this method, you can create any color you choose simply by mixing it with acrylic textile medium; a product that makes acrylic paint suitable for use on fabric and is fixed by heat. Awesome, right?

I wanted to add a little something extra to a perfect dove grey linen cloth I recently found, so, taking inspiration from the potato printed wall I did in my daughter’s room (you can spot my favorite colors there, too) I decided to mix up my colors and use the method once again to create this simple, scalloped printed table runner. —Sarah of Lapin Blu

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How to Create a Summer Garden-Style Arrangement

How to Create a Summer Garden-Style Arrangement

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When looking at a florist’s life through the filter of Instagram, it can sometimes seem that flower arranging and flower growing go hand in hand. I have to admit to being a little envious of the jaw-dropping flowers that some grow, arrange, and then scatter beautifully across my feed. Despite desperate attempts to step up and grow myself, I’m afraid to say that the ongoing results have been decidedly poor. Think dead snails, cat poo, children-trodden, bug-eaten, not-so-pretty florals.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present myself honestly as the non-green-fingered, non-gardening florist.

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So when the opportunity came to work with flowers grown at Chatsworth House, I jumped at the chance. Chatsworth itself is astonishingly beautiful. The 105-acre gardens have evolved over more than 450 years, set in amongst the rolling hills of Derbyshire — you could not wish for a more epic or typically English setting.

My good friend Becky is a gardener in the cutting garden and she and the team there very kindly agreed to let me cut and arrange flowers on site. One frightfully stormy June evening, with no plan or strategy, I grabbed my old cast iron urn and without my floppy sun hat or vintage floral dress (I was so un-prepared), I set off to live the Insta flower-grower/florist dream.

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When choosing flowers for an arrangement my usual instinct is to stay simple, subtle, selecting one or two main shades. However, the sheer choice of flowers in the cutting garden was overwhelming. Like a child let loose in a sweet shop I was jumping for joy at the chance to pick flowers I had never before been able to get my hands on: bearded iris, cerinthe, fennel, Himalayan blue poppy and angelica, to name a few. Subtlety blew out of the window on the wild peak district winds — I wanted to use everything! We took the collected bounty across to one of four 50-foot glasshouses, (built in 1890) to create the arrangement. —Anna of Swallows & Damsons

All photographs by India Hobson

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Check Out the Cook Republic Kitchen and Home, Designed to Share

Sneak Peek: Check Out the Cook Republic Kitchen Designed to Share, on Design*Sponge

Check Out the Cook Republic Kitchen and Home, Designed to Share

Kitchen renovations allow homeowners to customize their setups with open floorplans for entertaining, upgraded finishes in quirky color palettes, or even obscure built-in appliances to perfect favorite dishes. When lifestyle photographer and Cook Republic blogger Sneh Roy revamped her own Sydney kitchen, she did it with social media in mind. Everything created in the space is potential content for her site, so she considered the different nooks and styles she would need in order to bring variety to her work on the web. From crisp shots on white marble countertops, to dark and moody looks by the black chalkboard wall atop raw timber tables, to a light café feel with industrial furniture by the big glass doors, Roy’s idea was to create distinct zones in order to facilitate versatile looks for all of her popular food imagery.

The kitchen is an essential part of a real 3,700-square-foot 1960s brick-and-tile bungalow that feeds Roy’s loving family. Her husband Nick, an IT director, “is the caramel to my salted,” she says sweetly. Together, the pair enjoy having food adventures with their two boys Rivan (11 years old) and Rish (age 7), as well as caring for the many chickens and bunnies residing on the property.

The family appreciates the rarity of this moody, forest-like setting in their residential Sydney suburb. It was worth the seven years Roy spent coping with the home’s original kitchen, whose mustard cabinets had severe water damage, and warped countertops made it impossible for a chopping board to sit flat without rocking. During an eight-month renovation, the family camped out in the garage, boiled water in a kettle, and used the garden hose to do dishes in tubs through fall and winter. They missed sitting at a table and chairs to eat their meals. The resulting eclectic mix of old and new offers modern functionality — while keeping a mysterious feel — that ties into the rest of the house. It is the one adventure they are most glad to have completed. —Annie

Photography by Sneh Roy

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Photography Basics: Easy, Fool-Proof Considerations for Making the Most of Your Photos

Photography Basics: Easy, Fool-Proof Considerations for Making the Most of Your Photos

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They say a photograph is worth a thousand words. This could not be truer for anyone who runs a small business whose sales rely on photographs of their products or services — which, in the age of Instagram, applies to nearly any business. The photos you use on your social media channels or website can make or break a sale, and are not only forms of expression, but become representations of your business. Like any art form, photography is subjective and there are no right or wrong ways to take a photo, but by following some technical basics when using a camera, you can affect a photo’s mood, the story it conveys, and the tiny details that can help a photo go from good to great.

Today, studio potter and still-life photography enthusiast Ayumi Horie is joining us to share some of the easy-to-overlook technical camera basics that can impact a photo. Inspired by her own passion for photographing the art of making pots (which she documents on Instagram), her approach focuses on still objects in real-life contexts. Whether you use a DSLR or an iPhone, her tips are helpful for beginners, business owners who rely on product photography, or anyone who wants their photos to tell a story or convey a message. –Sabrina

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Life & Business: Adrienne Arieff

Life & Business: Adrienne Arieff

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The start-up story for so many entrepreneurs and business owners begins with: I just started and figured it out as I went. Though starting a business can be scary, this truth is also liberating and encouraging, and certainly proved to be for Adrienne Arieff, whose business launched out of many late-night Craigslist searches, backed by pure determination. Adrienne is the Managing Director and Founder of Arieff Communications, a PR, marketing and social media firm which has been transforming lifestyle brands into household names for decades. In addition to running a successful company with offices in New York and San Francisco, she has also penned three books, runs a business mentor program for 20-somethings and teens, and is an Advisor to UniversalGiving® and Accountability Council. Though her path to self-employment wasn’t a straight one (before AC, she worked as an Editor for Vogue, in-house at Burberry and at UNICEF), she attributes the sum of all of her life’s experiences to her continued success. Today, we’re thrilled to have Adrienne share some of her background, insight and wisdom into the world of business and self-employment. –Sabrina
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D*S Essay Contest: $500 Prize

D*S Essay Contest: $500 Prize

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After last week’s essay about finding a quieter version of myself, I started thinking about how I was much more interested in hearing other people’s voices and stories these days than my own. So I thought to myself, why not open up the floor to all of you to share your experiences and memories on Design*Sponge, just like our team does every week?

This summer, from now until August 15th, we’ll be accepting YOUR own personal essays related to the idea of HOME. These can be personal stories of decorating, moving, what you’ve learned from living with someone else or special collections you’ve been building over the years — any topic or theme that connects to what HOME means to you. The only rules? 1) It needs to be your original writing 2) It needs to come with at least one photo of your own and 3) The maximum limit is 2,500 words. Please note: your essay may be published on Design*Sponge, so please do not submit writing you do not want published.

We can’t wait to hear from all of you and listen to what YOU have to say and learn from your stories. And, to encourage anyone who may be shy about sharing their voice online, we’ll be awarding the top 3 essay-writers (which YOU will vote for!) with a $500 prize. So write away and send your essay to SUBMISSIONS AT DESIGNSPONGE DOT COM (Subject title “Essay Contest”) by August 15th, 2015. xo, grace

*Image above from Matt and Rita’s home tour.

Copenhagen, DK City Guide

Copenhagen, DK City Guide

Copenhagen, DK City Guide
Melanie Haynes grew up listening to her grandfather’s romantic tales and memories about his time spent in Copenhagen when he was in the Royal Navy. Coming from the little girl who, at the time, had an imaginary pet unicorn, she remembers how “it sounded so magical!” Though she was born in Kent, England, Denmark’s capital has been Melanie’s and her husband’s home for the past decade — and the place they’ve raised their five-year-old son. Melanie works as a freelance communications specialist and enjoys exploring the city in her off-time, blogging about her findings and working on her book about how to have a positive relocation experience, which she knows a thing or two about firsthand. To her, home is where the heart is, and Copenhagen has full grasp of her heart for the time being. Today, she’s thrilled to share her take on this vibrant city, bursting with culture and diversity. –Sabrina

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A Stylist’s Small Space in Southeast London

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A Stylist’s Small Space in Southeast London

My lease doesn’t allow me to repaint. I knew when I signed it that I’d have to live with the dark, yellowish-green walls, hoping that there’d be a way around it later. After living in the building for two months, keeping a clean, decorated space, my landlord let me know that painting my apartment would be okay with her. It was the best news. My rooms are now intentionally light or dark, but not dingy yellow. It just makes things easier (and potentially prettier) when landlords can trust that their buildings will be left in better condition than when first leased.

When stylist and photographer Carole Poirot, her boyfriend Bill and her son Dylan started looking in their current neighborhood, they were only finding rough, expensive places. Their 900-square-foot flat wasn’t much different, but the natural light and location gave it an edge and they have embraced the apartment and what it could be. “Knowing the limitations of a rental property, my main goal was to make it feel like home,” Carole says. She brought the flat to life with space dividers, plants and details that fit within the restrictions of her lease. “Renting in the UK can be difficult as landlords will often not allow you to change anything or even let you hang up pictures that might require nails,” Carole says. “However, after a few months we started to gain our landlord’s trust and were allowed to repaint, which was great as the whole place was painted in horrid magnolia with the exception of the kitchen, which was terracotta!” Carole’s home is a reflection of her and the people she loves, as much as a rental can be. The family has created a lovely, airy place, partially with the earned trust of their landlord. —Lauren

Photography by Carole Poirot

 

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The Snug New Jersey Home of an Imaginative Duo

The Snug New Jersey Home of an Imaginative Duo, Design*Sponge

The Snug New Jersey Home of an Imaginative Duo

When you call 475 square feet “home,” it’s almost guaranteed that you will be making compromises of some kind. Ruben Hughes and Sarah Nguyen, however, weren’t phased when they first stepped foot inside their one-bedroom home in West New York, NJ. Sure, the limited counter space and storage are a bit of a thorn in their sides, but the proximity to the city, a killer view, abundant morning light and heated bathroom floors made up for that. “We wanted to find a place that would allow us to escape the craziness of the city,” Ruben says. It looks like the two got just that.

When he isn’t holding down the fort as a Global Community Manager for Gap, Inc., Ruben can be found traveling the world and working as a freelance photographer. Without a doubt, his jaunts have influenced his style, and he often brings back inspiration to incorporate into their ever-evolving home. Ruben’s not the only creative mind in the house — his girlfriend Sarah treks to NYC daily to attend design school. Needless to say, these two both have great eyes and it shows in their apartment’s furnishings. When it was time to decorate the space, they relied heavily on their favorite shops Blu Dot, Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co. and Herman Miller. The couple hoped for a “modern space that mixed the highs and lows,” and I think they have most certainly achieved that. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Ruben Hughes and Veronica Olson

 

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A Santa Cruz Victorian Fit for a Queen

Sneak Peek: A Singular Santa Cruz Victorian Fit for a Queen, on Design*Sponge

A Santa Cruz Victorian Fit for a Queen

As the owner of Stripe Design Group and two auxiliary decor stores in Santa Cruz, CA, British expat Suna Lock enjoys the city’s Victorian architecture, which she feels is reminiscent of her beloved London. The voluminous rooms and high ceilings of this 1877 Italianate home are situated within walking distance to downtown, as Lock often misses the hustle and bustle of her former urban life. Many of the older houses in this region are carved up into apartments, but the original layout of this one is still intact. After moving in a decade ago, Lock further opened up the space by knocking out the wall between her kitchen and dining room to further integrate the two areas, while staining the floors black, choosing a saturated paint color palette, and selecting unique Mexican tiles for each individual stair. Lock resides here with her children, Thomas and Erica, as well as her love Josh, who joined them two years back.

The designer set out to have guests and residents alike feel immediately comfortable upon entering her home, in contrast with the building’s austere exterior. One interesting fact about the place among many — little alcoves line the walls leading up the stairs. Lock learned from her chimney sweep that these recesses are called “coffin corners,” and are designed so that if somebody were to pass away upstairs, that person could be carried down without scratching the walls. Thankfully, nobody has ever departed in the house, but the family does find this unusual feature useful for moving larger pieces of furniture up and down the stairs!  —Annie

Photography by Tommy Parker

 

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#DSFloors and Best of the Web

#DSFloors and Best of the Web

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All week I’ve been hanging around the floors of our house, distracting our dogs while Julia works on her first-ever solo cookbook shoot (!!) at our house. I’ve wrestled with them on carpets as they tried to sneak turkey meatballs from the shoot table and laid flat on the stone tiles outside trying to make them stop blocking the shots with their tails — so I’ve had floors on my mind. Naturally, I thought it would be the right time to devote our next #HashtagChallenge to FLOORS! Whether they’re made of ornate tile patterns, beautiful aged wood planks, modern tufted rugs or anything else in between, look down, snap a picture and share yours at #DSFloors! We’ll pick our favorites and share them here on DS and on our Instagram feed, too (your feet don’t have to be in the shot if you’re feeling shy!). Until then, here’s wishing you all a wonderful weekend from our little corner of the woods upstate! xo, grace

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Image sources above, top to bottom: Whitney Leigh Morris (@whitneyleighmorris), Laurel Autumn (@laurelautumncabrera) and Serena Abraham (@lifestyledbyserena).

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Cornmeal-Crusted Chicken with White Barbecue Sauce by Rebecca Lang

Cornmeal-Crusted Chicken with White Barbecue Sauce by Rebecca Lang

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As a southerner, I’m 99% sure that a deep and abiding love for fried chicken is hardwired in my DNA. I know exactly how I prefer my fried chicken (heavy on the crispy bits, with a side of soft yeast rolls and honey for dipping), but I’m an equal opportunity eater when it comes to different fried chicken recipes. So when I heard from Rebecca Lang about her new cookbook devoted entirely to fried chicken recipes, I listened.

Fried Chicken: Recipes for the Crispy, Crunchy, Comfort-Food Classic, is Rebecca’s new book and it’s chock-full of recipes that are perfect for picnics, barbecues, weddings (why not?) and everyday weeknight dinners. While looking through the book I decided to go outside of my comfort zone and try something different than my usual “no sauce” or “red BBQ sauce only” tendencies. Rebecca has a recipe for “Cornmeal-Crusted Chicken with White Barbecue Sauce” that looked amazing, so I asked if we could share it here today and thankfully she sent it over! If you need something truly delicious to make for your summer weekend, I can’t think of a tastier recipe. This reminds me of July 4th and watermelon and fireworks like nothing else. Thanks so much to Rebecca for sharing this recipe — you can check out her new book and order online at IndieBound or anywhere else books are sold online. xo, grace

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