Winter Hellebores by Swallows & Damsons

Winter Hellebores by Swallows & Damsons

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The Hellebore is my favorite winter flower. There is no more welcome a sight in a barren, frosty winter garden than the ever so subtle shy glimpse of a Hellebore. It is an absolute treat to have such a seasonal beauty in a time where little else blooms. Florists and gardeners alike are captivated by something so delicate and temperamental when cut, that can also withstand the hardest ice and snow.

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The name is derived from ‘Helein’ and ‘Bora’, which translates as ‘food of death’. The roots, if consumed are potentially fatal and there is much folklore with the intention of keeping children away from these poisonous plants. I am truly fascinated by this winter bloom, its poetic contradiction in death and beauty.

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It is hugely important that a Hellebore is cut from the garden at the right time in its growing cycle. If cut as a relatively new flower it’s days, even hours will be fleeting and nothing seems to revive these mysterious creatures. There have been many desperate and disappointing times at our shop tenderly cutting, changing water, controlling temperatures, giving pep talks, all to no avail. If however, they are cut when the flower has gone to seed, when the centre becomes more of a bulbous seed head they can last weeks cut in a vase.

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For this arrangement I used a number of different varieties of Hellebore, of which there are so many to choose from. Peaches, pinks, plums, double and single petals. I included Helleborus Niger, Micha Pink Beauty, Purple Price, Helleborus Argutifolius, Black Swan and my favorite, Anna’s Red. –Anna

“As the leaves of Hellebore
Turn to whence they sprung before.
And behind each ample curl
Peeps the richness of a pearl”

-John Keats

Photographs by India Hobson

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A Warm and Calming Home for Healers

A Warm and Calming Home for Healers, on Design*Sponge

A Warm and Calming Home for Healers

Though working in medicine, Milena Kaufman, a psychiatry resident, and Vic Perkins, an anesthesia resident, sometimes feel like the hospital is where they actually live. With long hours spent assisting patients, the couple set out to create a sanctuary at home in their Williamsburg, Brooklyn apartment filled with pets and memories of travels together. Preferring the aesthetic of an older loft with exposed beams and brick walls, the practicality of their new construction building won Milena and Vic over with its thoughtful interior details – like the decorative iron beams and floor-to-ceiling windows that open from above to keep critters safe – as well as a community of animal lovers all around. With California roots, the pair had recently visited Palm Springs and Joshua Tree locales, where they were inspired by the tranquility and ease of desert vibes. They returned with a midcentury, southwestern aesthetic in mind for their east coast abode.

Pulled together in one month between rigorous career commitments, Milena and Vic sourced the majority of their furniture online and on budget. Even with those constraints, Milena found a way to achieve her design goals. “I sold all of our old furniture on Craigslist, and poured all that money back towards Craigslist finds,” she explains. “Living in Brooklyn, you would be amazed what beautiful pieces of both modern and vintage furniture you can find on there!” Learning to paint walls and stay flexible with her design scheme, Milena made quick decisions in favor of the things that caught her eye. The couple have become adept at freeing up space by donating unused or unwanted items, but even so, resisted the urge to stage an office area that could add any clutter. “I think it’s worked out for us, as our furry babes make it hard to study at home anyway!,” Milena jokes. As many cat people can relate, “Chai is quite the fan of a warm laptop keyboard.” Time at home is invaluable, as right now, Milena and Vic spend most of their hours in the hospital caring for other people. “It feels so good at the end of the day to come together here,” she says. “It has a way of healing us.” —Annie

Photography by Caitlin Cooper

 

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A Refined and Welcoming Australian Home by the Ocean

A Refined and Welcoming Australian Home by the Sea | Design*Sponge

A Refined and Welcoming Australian Home by the Ocean

Tours don’t get much happier, brighter or more lush and green than it did in the Smack Bang studio tour. The historical building paired with approachable, modern design felt alive and inspiring. Smack Bang’s owner, Tess Robinson, hasn’t just created a stunning work environment for herself and her team — her remarkable house has also been outfitted with beautiful furniture, artwork and minimal obstructions to the immaculate views.

Tess Robinson and her partner, Byron Smith, Founder of Urban Growers, moved into this 1950s bungalow eight months ago. This seaside home in Sydney, Australia’s Bronte is a dream come true. Everything from the location, to the light, to the detached guesthouse makes this house the gem that it is and it has changed the way Tess and Byron live. “The location was quite honestly too good to be true. Our home is situated right on the Bronte cliffs overlooking Sydney’s magical Eastern coastline. Waking up with the Pacific Ocean at our doorstep every morning has changed my life and the way I begin my day,” Tess says. The home was only enhanced by the careful selection of furniture and decorative items brought in by Tess and Byron.

While they’ve only been in their rental for eight months, the couple has thoughtfully decorated and designed each room of their home. “We wanted to create a relaxed, welcoming and liveable space while staying true to the home’s 50s-retro heritage. Our home is full of an eclectic mix of treasures we have collected on our travels along the way,” Tess says. “It is also jam-packed with beautiful plants and an abundance of foliage.” Tess and Byron’s designers’ eyes have gone a long way in this home. The original character of the house has been sweetly honored while reflecting the chill, modern aesthetic Tess and Byron share. This home has it all — including a cute family to love it well. –Lauren

Photography by Ashley Natasha Jones

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Hand-Lettered Quotations: Day 4

Hand-Lettered Quotations: Day 4

Quote 4 - Herman Melville
This morning’s quotation, hand-lettered by Chandan Mahimkar, speaks to the struggle of striving for originality above all else. In an online world where it’s easy to fall into ruts and patterns inspired by general trends we’re all seeing, it’s important to remember the value of staying true to your own ideas, even if they don’t all work out the way we’d like. We all know how challenging it can be to follow our instincts, and hopefully this will be a little bit of mid-week motivation to stay the course and listen to what makes us each unique and special. xo, grace

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DIY Heart-Shaped Tea Light Candles

DIY Heart-Shaped Tea Light Candles

DIY Heart Tea Candles
As I’ve grown older, I’ve gotten more into the idea of a personal and intimate Valentine’s Day. I like to think if you’re celebrating it romantically, then it’s a day when you should turn off your phone, put away your laptop and focus on your relationship. If you’re anything like me, you probably enjoy a more relaxed Valentine’s Day celebration. We always stay in — opting for a movie and game night with take-out food. As much as I would favor this over a night in a busy restaurant, staying in and playing Scrabble can feel a bit like you’re losing some of the romance!

It’s my opinion that the little details can make all the difference. Add dimmed lights and a few candles and you’re setting the scene already. I’ve made these cute, heart-shaped tea light candles to scatter around our table this year. They’re so quick and easy — you can whip them up in time to add a little more romance to your night in, too! —Fran

DIY Heart Tea Candles

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A Fine Artist’s Playfully Curated Home in Los Angeles

A Fine Artist's Playfully Curated Home in Los Angeles | Design*Sponge

A Fine Artist’s Playfully Curated Home in Los Angeles

The things we love find their way into our homes. My own home is filled with stacks of interior design magazines. For acclaimed fine artist and designer Bari Ziperstein, it’s handmade ceramic pieces that bring personality and life to her space. Her award-winning work isn’t just for the gallery — it is beautifully and playfully displayed in her home.

Bari and David Eaves, an electrical engineer for an aerospace company, picked their apartment four years ago for the age-old priority — location, location, location. Their Mid-City West neighborhood in Los Angeles, CA fits their work lives and family lives almost perfectly. “Our apartment is halfway between both of our jobs; we needed a place where we both reverse commute against Los Angeles traffic,” Bari says. “David commutes to the west side by the airport and I commute to my east side ceramic studio in Glassel Park. Almost every weekend we walk three blocks to LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art). Not having a large backyard is fine, as LACMA is where our son Lawrence learned to walk and it’s his own giant county park.” Ideal location aside, the pieces in the family’s home have been collected, curated and considered over the last four years. There is art in almost every corner of the house and it brings a lively spirit to the space.

Creating their home was a learning experience for Bari and David. “Our current home was our first fresh place together as a couple,” Bari says. “Combining our tastes and sentimental objects was challenging. The artist and the engineer, it’s just as you imagine — lots of ceramic objects, art books, sci-fi figurines, and video games. You really get to know someone when you spend hours packing up their junk drawer, seeing the shelves deep in their closets, and the reality of how many shoes I have. We wanted to create a welcoming space that was relaxed, colorful, and a child-friendly home that still has a nod to our design and quirky interests.” That is exactly what they have achieved, and it is abundantly apparent that the sweet people and objects in this home are treasured. –Lauren

Photography by Bari Ziperstein

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A Charming, Minimal and Character-Filled Home in Minnesota

A Charming, Minimal and Character-Filled Family Home in Saint Paul, MN

A Charming, Minimal and Character-Filled Home in Minnesota

While attending graduate school, Kari Jensen and her then-fíance, Aaron, rented a space in her brother’s home in the heart of Saint Paul, MN (which we featured in last week’s city guide). While neck-deep in studies nearly 10 years ago, the couple decided to take a break and spend a day browsing the city when they happened upon this cute bungalow just down the street. To their surprise, they found themselves considering — and ultimately buying — it. “We grew to love the neighborhood and the location was perfect for work and school and where we found ourselves playing on the weekends,” Kari shares. “It was completely on a whim, but we toured the house, liked what we saw, and thought it would be a good starter home for us until we were ready to grow our family.”

Their 1,600-square-foot bungalow is bright, clean and borders on minimal, but it still boasts just the right amount of character and charm — thanks to the home’s many original features, such as its archways, wood-trimmed windows, the fireplace and doors. Built in 1932, this space that they once considered their temporary starter home has become the place where they’ve raised their three children, Kaia, Kendi, and Klo (an ongoing journey which Kari chronicles on the blog Living Life’s Moments). Despite the home being the ultimate family zone, completed with their dog, Jazzy, Kari didn’t always see it this way. “We never thought we’d be in our home as long as we have. Nine years and three little birdies later, we are still in our first home!”

Nearly a decade ago, when the couple first bought their home, it was in pretty good shape and only in need of cosmetic updates; projects which were completed with gusto and excitement over the years. But as Kari explains best, “despite the work we have done to improve our home over the years, it has always felt like home to us because of the people and the things we have in it.” Since day one, and exponentially with every addition they’ve made to their family over the years, the home has become more refined, functional and cozy. “We have found that less really is more,” Kari begins, “by reducing [unnecessary] decor or eliminating clutter, we have a space that feels cleaner, more functional, and overall feels bigger. We bring in what we need and try our hardest to leave out those ‘wanted things’.” With this in mind, many of the furnishings that do stand in their home tell some kind of tale, whether it’s the table Kari’s dad made for the family using her grandmother’s barn wood, or the coffee table Kari designed and had made, and even the dresser in the couple’s bedroom which was Aaron’s grandmother’s. “Everything has a story,” Kari says, “and that is what I love so much about the spaces we have created.”

Over the years, the Jensen family has put a lot of heart into their home, making it their own and allowing it to evolve and adapt to their needs. But more than where they live, and more than the decor and furniture they own, Kari’s most thankful for who lives under this roof, saying: “It isn’t our forever home, but we sure do love it — especially the people in it.” –Sabrina

LAFurniture logoThis post is brought to you by LA Furniture. Get inspired by their Shop the Look features and browse their extensive collection of quality furniture. See their range here.

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What’s In Your Toolbox: Pastrana Studio

What’s In Your Toolbox: Pastrana Studio

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“There is nothing worth having in life that isn’t worth fighting for,” insist Julian and Kate Pastrana, artisans who are adamantly “creating and living the simple life in Texas.” Their woodshop Pastrana Studio allows the couple to make the furniture, home goods, and paintings that fit into their own lifestyle — things that they love living with, and will bring joy to the lives of others. Their “purpose-made products” undergo an extensive conceptualizing, prototyping, templating, and building process to ensure the items are not only worth having for oneself, but will be passed down to future generations.

An important step for them, “learning to ‘sit’ on a piece physically and mentally,” allows the design process to remain an organic achievement of learned lessons and observations. “We constantly look for inspiration and continually adjust elements of design,” they explain. Upon recently viewing the early work of a beloved design hero, Julian and Kate took encouragement from the fact that “everyone starts somewhere.” Always striving to offer the best possible goods to customers, the Pastranas are dedicating this year to finishing the design and prototype for some forthcoming barstools, cabinets, and lounge chair pieces — unwaveringly heirloom-quality products developed slowly to last a lifetime. —Annie

Photography by Julian and Kate Pastrana

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Hand-Lettered Quotations: Day 3

Hand-Lettered Quotations: Day 3

Quote 2 - Angela Davis
When Chandan Mahimkar and I were deciding which quotations we wanted to illustrate for this week’s guest series, we both knew we wanted to look for thoughts and ideas that would apply to life as well as work. Today’s quotation, from activist and educator Angela Davis, is one of my favorites, and it speaks to perseverance in a way that I love. I hope her words will inspire you to keep pushing through tough times and find a way to turn every wall into a bridge. xo, grace

5 Flowery Ways to Say ‘I Love You’ (& Support Farmers, Artisans and Creatives)

5 Flowery Ways to Say ‘I Love You’ (& Support Farmers, Artisans and Creatives)

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Valentine’s Day usually conjures up visions of red roses (okay, and chocolate), and while gifting roses is a lovely gesture, it’s also a tired one. Today, there are so many better floral options that not only deliver on variety, but encourage more sustainable practices and support local flower farmers in your area. Giving you enough time to call in your pre-orders, we’re welcoming back Erin Benzakein of Floret Flowers (who joined us recently to share a series of business tips), an expert on all things floral, to shed some light and impart her insight on the topic.

Whether you’re buying for a loved one, for yourself, or simply looking to spruce up the vase on your dining table this weekend, Erin has put together a blossoming source list of pop-up shops, subscription services, and workshops across all of North America to consider, as well as recommendations for unique gift ideas for your flower-loving Valentine(s). Enjoy! –Sabrina

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Life & Business: Andrea Whalen

Life & Business: Andrea Whalen

Life & Business: Andrea Whalen, on Design*Sponge

Throughout the long journey to hand-screenprinting her own collection of textiles, Ohio-based designer Andrea Whalen “wanted to create a line that comes with a history already built-in — a story of the hands that drew, carved, and placed every motif.” With the advent of Internet inspiration and commerce, Andrea created the first patterns as Domesticate, her own label at on-demand fabric, wallpaper, and gift wrap producer, Spoonflower. Amazed that the product of her creative passion sold well on the site to a widespread clientele, Andrea set out to build an additional business entirely her own. Virginia Kraft, named for Andrea’s grandmother who taught her that “good things… take time and love to create… all the best things do,” allows the entrepreneur to take part in all aspects of the operation, including necessary downtime during which she explores and seeks inspiration. “Coming up with new ideas is my favorite part!” Andrea shares. “I had to stop seeing it as a luxury and more of a necessity.”

To people who have many ideas and no clear indication of where to start, she advises choosing “what you’d like to wake up and get to do every day.” For her, that thing is designing fabric. “It’s this energy inside me that I’ve been given to nurture and explore for whatever reason… and I send it off to become a part of people’s homes and lives.” —Annie

Photography by Andrea Whalen

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Life & Business: Young Huh

Life & Business: Young Huh

Life & Business: Young Huh, Design*Sponge
Named one of Lonny Magazine’s “Next Big Names In Design,” Young Huh is the woman behind many an immaculate home. Designing interiors, however, wasn’t always in the cards for the New York City-based creative. Not long ago, Young was blazing a trail towards becoming a lawyer. She even got so far as to pass the NY and NJ bar exams! But she quickly realized that while her mind was in the courtroom, her heart was somewhere else — somewhere prettier, where textiles and paint swatches beat out testimonials and witnesses. Armed with the confidence of family and friends, Young left the world of law behind and took an internship at a design firm. The rest really is history.

Since setting out on her own in 2007, Young has dealt with her fair share of difficult clients, navigated the ups and downs of being her own boss, and learned one valuable lesson: keep the faith. That’s what I admire most about Young. She embodies the belief that with an eye on the prize, and unwavering positivity, it’ll all be okay in the end. It took stamina, but holding tightly to that ideal has gotten her to where she is today. Click through to read all about Young’s rise to the top. Enjoy! —Garrett

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24 Hours in Nantucket, MA

24 Hours in Nantucket, MA

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Nearly 30 miles into the North Atlantic (and seemingly a world away from the Massachusetts mainland), today’s city guide brings us to the enchanted enclave of Nantucket Island. Once the whaling capital of the world, Nantucket hasn’t changed all that much from its whaling heyday — at least, architecturally speaking. Absent of a single traffic signal, neon sign, big box store or restaurant chain, the waterside downtown village has remained paved in century-old cobblestone that, at least according to island legend, once served as stabilizing ballast on trade ships.

“From the minute you take your first step onto Nantucket, you’ll understand why its original Native American inhabitants named it a word meaning ‘faraway island’,” the writer of today’s city guide, Andrea E. McHugh, remarks. Despite its reputation for being a lofty and expensive place to visit — especially in the summer months — today, Andrea is showing us how “you don’t need a trust fund to enjoy the very best that ‘The Little Grey Lady of the Sea’ has to offer.” Sabrina

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Hand-Lettered Quotations: Day 2

Hand-Lettered Quotations: Day 2

Quote 3 - Joseph Pearce
All week we’re being joined by artist Chandan Mahimkar, who has created these beautiful, hand-lettered pieces inspired by some of our favorite creatives. Yesterday we saw Chandan’s hand-lettered version of a Paula Scher quotation and today we’re hearing from author Joseph Chilton Pearce. It’s a wonderful thought to keep in mind as we head into a new work week full of challenges and opportunities. xo, grace

Doing It His Way In Cape Town, South Africa

Doing It His Way In Cape Town, South Africa, on Design*Sponge

Doing It His Way In Cape Town, South Africa

Nearby the city center in Cape Town, South Africa, freelance designer, director, and entertainment consultant Chad Findlay pulled off quite the feat — transforming the basement of his parents’ home into his own dream apartment. Having studied at the College of Magic from the age of nine, Chad was well-versed in directing large productions, but this renovation required some unexpected tricks, like excavating mounds of dirt and large boulders out of the mountainside to make way for steel supports. With the help of his family, Chad was able to design his ideal space on a small budget while decorating with pieces he loves. Scouring sales, discount outlets, and his grandmother’s furniture collection “could have been a disastrous combination!” he jokes. Nearly every fixture and finish in the flat was free or salvaged, an act that pleases the practical performer greatly. “I love the fact [that] everything has a story to tell… with a balance between vintage and contemporary — not too granny, not too showroom.”

As in many homes, the details keep changing — and Chad swears it’s not an illusion. “I go to bed, I wake up, and things have moved,” he says. “There are either a bunch of very eager decorating fairies finding their way inside on a nightly basis, or I sleep-decorate.” In spite of the unexplained phenomenon, Chad feels “most thankful for the space, the location, and the opportunity to do it my way!” —Annie

Photography by Sam Burrows

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