Home Ec: DIY Stress Relievers

A spa massage is great, but you can also treat yourself to a home massage with this DIY massage oil recipe. Infused with bergamot, lavender and rose geranium, this mix is perfect for banishing winter blues. If you have a partner, ask them to treat you to a massage with this! If not, try using this on your legs, feet, hands and arms to start - it can work wonders for tired feet.

Home Ec: DIY Stress Relievers

I’ve found that as winter creeps on, I find myself curling into a little ball on the couch. When the temperatures drop, I pile the blankets on and all thoughts of good posture and staying stretched out and in shape go out the window. This is the time of year when it would be wonderful to indulge in a spa day and get a great massage, warm up a bit and maybe even hit the steam room. But that’s not in my budget right now, so I’ve been trying to think of simple ways I can create my own stress relievers at home without breaking the bank. So in light of what feels like NY’s millionth snow storm today (and the digging-out we’ll need to do), I’m sharing some of my favorite DIY remedies you can easily make at home with your own two hands. These will help ease sore muscles, calm your mind and relax your body — all good ideas when the icy weather has us all scrunched up and huddling in the wind. xo, grace

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This post and the Home Ec section are brought to you by Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day. Visit the Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Home-Grown Inspiration section featuring 20 DIYs, including seven from Design*Sponge!

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Artwork by Faye Moorhouse

Artwork by Faye Moorhouse

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I’m not sure if it’s because winter has me feeling particularly stir-crazy this year, but I’ve lately been jonesin’ for artwork with an unsettling, irreverent flair; work that disregards formal propriety and proudly waves its proverbial bird through the air. Let’s call it my rebellious art phase. I recently stumbled across the work of UK-based illustrator Faye Moorhouse and it has been feeding this morbid desire beautifully.

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From seemingly innocuous drawings of house pets to delightfully misshapen portraits of people, Moorhouse’s work combines a naive, rudimentary style with a devilish darkness that makes for work that is thrilling in its humor, off-kilter charm, and ability to unsettle. With a body of work that includes divinely crude ceramics and self-published zines, Moorhouse’s process reads as both fresh and decidedly punk rock. Check out Faye’s Etsy shop here. Continue after the jump for more images of her work! —Max VIEW MORE

Buffalo’s Cafe Fargo

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Buffalo’s Cafe Fargo

Even as little as five years ago, one would be hard-pressed to find an instance of the terms “Buffalo, NY” and “cutting-edge design” paired together — at least as far as the latter half of the 20th century is concerned. This is why, as a diehard devotee of this fabulous Rust Belt gem, I think I can speak for all Buffalonians when I express just how happy I am that these days seem to be over. Now that my beloved hometown has entered into what appears to be a full-blown Renaissance with Millenials flocking there to “live like kings,” the Queen City’s design scene has gone from a quiet peripheral whisper to, if I may speak frankly, STRAIGHT BALLER.

Take, for example, this newly constructed project space by local architectural firm Davidson Rafailidis. Code-named “Cafe Fargo,” this formally experimental, aesthetically fresh space is housed within a former deli on one of the Queen City’s stunning residential blocks. As rich in ideas as it is in beauty, the space combines centuries-old building methods and aesthetics with modern, energy-saving ideals to create something remarkably new.

“Typically, for a hospitality space, a large amount of the construction budget goes into mechanical systems that provide a uniform indoor climate throughout the year,” the architect notes. “With a tight budget, we took the opposite approach and transformed these invisible mechanical services into two experiential architectural elements that emphasize the distinct pleasures of summer and winter.” Employing Derbyshire, England’s 1590 Hardwick Hall as a case study, the architectural team turned to the decidedly old school technology of Kachelofen — masonry heaters — to heat the space in the winter and gigantic windows to keep everything breezy in the summer. Covered in black and white patterned encaustic tile, the Kachelofen at Cafe Fargo is the largest in North America, emanating heat throughout the space and through an attached heated bench.

To capture the beauty of this unique space, Davidson and Rafailidis turned to the German photographer Florian Holzherr whose images showcase the fantastic potential of Cafe Fargo. “We wanted someone who could really capture the soft, matte finishes in the space, and also a photographer who was used to conveying an architectural idea,” architect Stephanie Davidson says. “He had never been to Buffalo (not a big surprise), but was very engaged in his three days here.” Check out all of Florian’s photos in the slideshow, along with additional notes on the design of Cafe Fargo! —Max

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Before & After: A Modern Bathroom for a 1905 Farmhouse

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Before & After: A Modern Bathroom for a 1905 Farmhouse

I could fill an entire book with the funny stories, quirks and psychology that come with sharing your home online. Putting photos of some of the most private spaces in your life on the Internet can be daunting, of course, but how people choose to curate and handle that is different from family to family. But I’ve found that people universally tend to leave out their bathrooms more than any other room. Perhaps it’s because no one really loves looking at toilets or maybe it’s because it’s one of the last areas to get an upgrade, since it’s one of the least public areas of a home. So when I got a chance to revisit a home tour from three years ago and check out a previously unseen bathroom, I was sold.

Steve and Kalah Kren shared their 1905 farmhouse with us back in 2012. They renovated a few spaces right away, but several rooms, like this downstairs bathroom, had to wait to get their moment in the spotlight. Steve and Kalah wanted to tackle this project with a pro, so they hired designer Kirsten Grove to makeover their space. Their tiny downstairs bathroom was gutted, with the walls knocked down and a totally new tub, tile and sink added. I love how clean and simple the new space feels. It’s the sort of fresh start I love in a home and Kirsten chose great finishes and fixtures to give the room a modern feel. Click through to read more about the makeover and Kirstin’s design details! xo, grace

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Project Sip: Meyer Lemon Gin Cocktail

Project Sip: Meyer Lemon Gin Cocktail

© Kathryn McCrary Photography Atlanta Lifestyle Photographer Project Sip Jenn Gietzen Write On Design-64
A few years ago, Meyer Lemons really had their moment in the sun. It seemed like they were the star of every menu, from appetizers to cocktails and desserts. Originally from China, Meyer Lemons taste like a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange. It’s that extra punch of sweetness that makes them perfect for desserts and cocktails and today we’re sharing a delicious drink recipe from the Project Sip team, Jenn Gietzen and Kathryn McCrary, that showcases Meyer Lemons in all their glory. This recipe calls for gin, but I’ve found that you can easily substitute in some seltzer if you’d like to make a non-alcoholic version. The shot of rosemary simple syrup really seals the deal for me with this one — it’s a perfect late winter drink. Enjoy! xo, grace

*You can check out their last five drinks right here!

© Kathryn McCrary Photography Atlanta Lifestyle Photographer Project Sip Jenn Gietzen Write On Design-65

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Flower Identification App

Flower Identification App

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Until recently, there wasn’t a week that went by without me asking, “Why isn’t there an app where you can just upload a picture of a flower or plant and have them tell you what it is?” I’m always outside or in a garden shop trying to figure out what things are and I’ve found, more often than not, that people working in larger garden or home stores don’t always know what plants they’re selling. So I started carrying around a pocket-sized flower guide with me everywhere I went. Then I realized I wanted to know more about small trees and flowering plants, so I started carrying around a small tree identification book, too. My book load was starting to get a little ridiculous compared to the size of my daily bag, so I decided to resume my search again for an app and, thankfully, there is now an app for flower identification!

LikeThat Garden: Flower Identification is a free (yay!) app in the iTunes store that lets you snap (or upload) a pic and in a moment, they’ll tell you what it is. There have been a number of plant identification apps that have popped up over the years, but they’ve never worked for me. I’ve always ended up with the wrong plant or a “Sorry, we can’t find your flower!” error message. But so far, everything I’ve uploaded to this app seems to pop up instantly. With spring approaching and gardens getting ready to come back to life everywhere, I thought this would be a particularly handy app to have for anyone looking for a little inspiration. Flower Identification is only available for iPhones right now, but they announced they’re expanding to Android next month, so stay tuned! xo, grace

*Photo by Maxwell Tielman

DIY Clay Wind Charm

DIY Clay Wind Charm

DIY Clay Wind Charm

When I was younger I collected wind chimes. We would keep them in the garden hanging from trees and in the summer I was never happier than when I sat underneath the chimes on a summer’s evening, listening to them clang musically in the breeze. The current decor trend to hang everything — from plants to your fruit bowl — has had me reminiscing over the decorative aspects of chimes. Hanging disks or tubes to create a collection of shapes, rather than a sound, seems to fit perfectly with this trend. Instead of metals I used an air-dry clay to make these decorative indoor chimes as subtle in their sound as they are in their aesthetic! —Fran VIEW MORE

Materially Crafted: A DIY Primer for the Design-Obsessed

Materially Crafted: A DIY Primer for the Design-Obsessed

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I love a good DIY book. Primarily because they remind me (hopefully over and over again) that beautiful design isn’t something you have to buy in a store or take down from a shelf. Sometimes the best things you can decorate your home with are the ones you make with your own two hands. Victoria Hudgins of the blog A Subtle Revelry has a brand new DIY book out and I’ve already dog-eared a few pages to tackle this spring when it starts to thaw outside. Her book, Materially Crafted: A DIY Primer for the Design-Obsessed, focuses on materials and great ways (including 30 main projects) to transform them into something special. I think material-based projects are the best to tackle, because they leave you feeling comfortable and proficient with something you can now carry over and try again in a new way. Victoria has been kind enough to share a full project from the book today — one that is perfect for pre-spring. This hanging orb planter (don’t worry, the pot is attached!) lets you show off your favorite plants and turn them into a dramatic hanging display — or just a single bold strand of statement. Thanks so much to Victoria for sharing this with us today and a big congrats on her new book — you can check it out and pick up a copy right here. xo, grace

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Architectural Charm in the Suburbs

The dining room is what Jami calls the "hub" of the home. The natural light, exposed beams and hardwood floors make this room stunning. The Nato Family's simple and significant decorating decisions in this room allow the space to be shown off.

Architectural Charm in the Suburbs

Moving to the suburbs can be hard – especially if the home being left behind in the city is a 100-year-old house with incredible charm. The odds of finding a home with character in a newly developed area are slim. When Mark and Jami Nato needed to find a home quickly (Jami was eight months pregnant when their old house sold) in the suburbs of Kansas City, they were thankful to find a house they could make a month’s worth of changes to and feel at home in. They’ve lived in their 1980s Cape Cod colonial for just six months and have turned it into a refined, beautiful space with architectural personality throughout.

Mark works in surgical sales and Jami is a blogger and stays home with their four kids, Layne, Lila, Penelope and Pruett. “We moved from the city to the suburbs for our special needs kiddo to have a good educational opportunity. In the suburbs there is so much new construction,” Jami said. “We thought we would end up in something generic, but when we saw this home, we fell in love.” To get the home ready for the new baby, Jami and Mark narrowed down their priorities. Carpet removal, a kitchen update, and fresh paint on the walls and trim were the most important to get done first.

They’ve decorated and designed their home perfectly for the way they intend to use it. “We want to live here, really live here. I never want my kids saying they were afraid of certain rooms or that they didn’t feel welcome where they lived. Basically, we just wanted a home that exudes hospitality, for ourselves and for others,” Jami said. Each piece is special and loved by the Natos, complementing the beautiful structure it lives in. They have turned this unusual suburban house into the best of both worlds – what they need and what they love. -Lauren

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Studio Tour: Souda

A Mitre Stool sits atop a platform in the Souda studio.

Studio Tour: Souda

It’s easy to feel slightly envious of Souda, the Brooklyn-based design collective founded by Parsons alumni Shaun Kasperbauer, Luft Tanaka, and Isaac Friedman-Heiman. When we first covered their work in early 2013, the ink on the trio’s undergraduate degrees was still drying, their collection consisted mostly of thesis work, and they were still laying the groundwork for their business. In the subsequent two years, Souda has already achieved the type of success and accolades typically reserved for old pros. From winning a New York Design Award and the title of ICFF’s Best New Designer to features in Dwell, Vogue Living, The New York Times, and Wallpaper, their star only seems to be rising.

It’s not really any surprise why. Since their debut collection, Souda has been consistently pushing aesthetic and formal boundaries, expanding upon their already experimental ethos. With an oeuvre that now includes seating, shelving, lighting, and large-scale ceramics, the trio has branched out while remaining true to their style and message. Beautifully crafted using unusual methods like leather slip casting, each piece is as much a treat for the mind and the hand as it is for the eyes. A few weeks back, I had the pleasure of stopping into Souda’s Bushwick studio, a space that the friends have been renting since their Parsons days. With an impeccably appointed office and a massive workspace overflowing with creative energy, it’s hard to believe that this remains —more or less— a three-man operation. Check out all of the photos from my visit in the slideshow! —Max

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Life & Business: Taylor & Elaine of Local Wanderer

Life & Business: Taylor & Elaine of Local Wanderer

Life & Business: Taylor & Elaine of Local Wanderer

Craving more freedom and fun than they had in their careers, two Canadian pals, Taylor Loren and Elaine Rystead, hopped in a car, quit their jobs and started driving. They knew they were headed for Mexico, but figuratively, they had no idea what they were chasing other than what made them happy and what felt right. And, as is often the case, doing what they really love is what ended up being the most rewarding business they could have ever imagined. Today, the lovely lasses of Local Wanderer are taking time out of their globe-trotting lives to chat about business, localism vs. tourism, what a career in social media means, copycats and more. –Sabrina

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Trend Watch: Modest Minimalism

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Trend Watch: Modest Minimalism

When one thinks of minimalism, the capital “M” design movement that came to prominence in the late 1960s typically springs to mind. From visually austere work by artists like Donald Judd to the spartan interiors and home decor championed by brands like Muji, the term Minimalism has heretofore been associated with distinctly Modernist forms and materials. If recent shifts in design currents are any indication, though, people are becoming interested in reinvestigating and reinterpreting the meaning of this term. With ventures like The New Minimalism or shops like The Primary Essentials coming to the fore, we are now seeing a new way in which artists, designers, and homeowners are engaging with the less-is-more impulses of minimalism; one that places emphasis not on industrial materials or luxurious appointments, but the storied imperfections of the handmade and handed-down. What seems to be a rejection against the “pile it high and sell it cheap” mentality of modern life, this development showcases a desire to live with less by assigning more meaning and consideration to a small collection of important, treasured objects. Check out the slideshow for some beautiful takes on this new trend! —Max

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Life & Business: Marketing Can Be Beautiful By Michelle Fifis

Life & Business: Marketing Can Be Beautiful By Michelle Fifis

Marketing Can Be Beautiful by Michelle Fifis

After leaving her corporate textile design job in 2010, Michelle Fifis wanted to keep her momentum going, stay up with the trends and industry news and keep track of her inspiration and resources, so she created the blog Pattern Observer. Today, Michelle is a successful textile designer who has worked with such clients as Lucy Activewear, Columbia Sportswear, Jantzen Swimwear, Pendleton and P&B Textiles. On her blog, she continues to write about business and textile design and her membership community, The Textile Design Lab, offers learning and networking opportunities to hundreds of designers worldwide. She’s chatting with us about that seemingly icky word that doesn’t have to be: marketing! –Sabrina

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City Guide: 24 Hours in Grand Rapids, MI

City Guide: 24 Hours in Grand Rapids, MI

Grand Rapids, Michigan City Guide

Libby VanderPloeg is an illustrator, letterer and designer who grew up on the edge of the Great Lakes dunes in the lovely Grand Rapids, MI. Though she’s since moved to Greenpoint, Brooklyn, her affinity for storytelling, music, letterforms, printed ephemera, and wildlife has remained with her. Libby’s charmingly witty and beautifully descriptive 24-hour guide is filled with all the goodness in life, from food and drink to art and antiques. Click through to read her short-story-esque city guide! –Sabrina

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A Kansas Home Filled with Color and Pattern

Tobe and Eric's master bedroom is the most recent space to be decorated. "Which is strange if you think about it, because it's so important to have that zen space to wake up in and fall into at night. It's made all the difference to us to finally have it finished. We love the serene, casual vibe. The vintage Tole sconce adds a bit of drama in matte black," Tobe explained.

A Kansas Home Filled with Color and Pattern

Every once in a while, people luck out and find their dream home on the first try. Other times, it takes years to find the perfect space. For Tobe and Eric Reed, they had to look at over 200 homes until they found one that was just right. Convinced that they originally wanted a fixer-upper, the Reeds spent a long time looking for the perfect makeover project. But after three failed offer attempts, they expanded their search to see more move-in-ready homes. The home they would eventually call their own was outside of their budget range during the majority of their search process, but as luck would have it, it fell into their range toward the end of their hunt.

Eric and Tobe loved the home’s mid-century character and the fact that it was centrally located in their hometown of Overland Park, KS (the couple works on opposite ends of the city). So three years ago they moved in and they’ve worked on making it feel like their home ever since. Tobe, a bloggershop owner and graphic design/social media manager for Hallmark Cards and Eric, a Fire Protection Engineer, share their home with their daughters Ava and Grace and a rescue cat named Tucker. Their family has worked together to create a space that not only welcomes their friends and family, but makes each member of their family feel comforted and at home. I love all of the family pieces they’ve incorporated into their space, along with cherished artwork by friends. Tobe explained, “It’s so important to love where you live, and we’ve taken great care to surround ourselves with things that we love and that serve our lifestyle. While I may never be content to just leave things alone for awhile (or even five minutes), I think it comes from a need to move and shift to best reflect the people that live here and how we need our home to function.” I think they’ve done just that and I’m so thrilled to peek inside their beautiful home today. xo, grace

Photographs by Jane Kortright

 

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