As we near the final stretch of winter, I keep imagining my vases (that are mostly tucked away right now) filled with the blooms and blossoms of spring. I can not wait to pull them out, line them up and take my time filling them with flowers and branches. I love to forage for anything green to put in every room of my house during the growing season, and these vases each have a charm of their own that can add something special to a room — until they’re filled with a bunch of freshly picked flowers or a store-bought bouquet. Click through to the slideshow for our 10 favorites that can stand on their own, filled or not! –Caitlin
On a wall in the Noel home hangs a very special piece of art. The painting is an abstract mixture of blues, green, red, yellow, orange, and black. It’s vibrant and compelling, much like the Noels themselves. Lauren, and her youngest son Keegan (age seven), created the painting together. Mother and son recently had an art show entitled “Us” at The Creative Clubhouse in Cleveland, OH displaying 20 of their collaborations. But the original that hangs on the boys’ bedroom wall, the very first painting they created together, is not for sale. It remains as a testament to this family’s colorful life and spirit.
The Noel family — made up of Lauren and her husband Rian, sons Dylan (age eight) and Keegan, and their “fur creatures,” cat Margot Tenenpaw, and dogs Edie and Mowgli — recently moved from Florida to Cleveland. Lauren describes the move as an act of faith. They left behind family and friends, year-round sun and warmth, and a house just minutes from the beach. They did it in hopes of getting Keegan more therapies and better schooling for his autism. Once there, Lauren says they “fell hard and fast for the city. It’s a place that’s underrated and a true hidden gem. It’s full of so much life and culture. I know Rian and I both feel like we can plant our feet here.”
And plant their feet they did. What Lauren, an artist, and Rian, who works in the hotel industry, have been able to accomplish through a mixture of paint and original art in the eight months they’ve lived in their Cleveland Heights rental is mind-boggling. Lauren says using lots of color makes their rental feel “homey” and is a way of bringing with them a piece of their Florida life. As Vincent Van Gogh said, “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” Lauren and Rian painted the living room of the 1925 Colonial three different times with three different greens in their quest for the right emerald hue. Lauren also commissioned her friend and fellow artist Rachel Angelique Dewey to hand-paint flowers in the bathroom. And they’ve assembled a stunning array of furniture and décor from visits to thrift stores, finds picked up off the side of the road, and pieces passed down from family. This series of small things, brought together by a love of color, has resulted in something truly great. As Lauren says, “Color gives me life.” —Liberty
Photography by Heidi M. Rolf
A creative bond between siblings can encourage each to make their most challenging and intimate work. Lise Gulassa is the Santa Cruz, CA-based half of design team Sisters Gulassa co-founded with Vienna-based sister Cyrille. The two share a passion for color, pattern design, and making art. They work independently and also collaborate on bespoke art and pattern design projects. Their designs are licensed and sold to a variety of clients for a wide range of products, including many in fashion and interiors. “We grew up in a big family with much art and creativity around us, and have lots of talented brothers!,” Lise shares. For her, the design process is like an adventure. “I like to be open to the possibilities, the discoveries that come along the way — this is when or where interesting things start to happen. Often the idea of what I want to accomplish involves constraints that make the creative challenge exciting to me.”
Whether she’s experimenting with materials or traveling to absorb inspiration, Lise advocates creating one’s own opportunities by being present in the moment. “The creative process is a funny, emotional roller coaster ride, and I try to show up and hang on to my hat and enjoy the ride,” she says. “The more often I show up, the more things happen; it’s wonderful in that way.” —Annie
This past fall, I had the great privilege of attending the last In The Company of Women book tour event in Philadelphia. It was a week after the election. Spirits were understandably dashed, but definitely not defeated. The creative community came together, shed a few tears, laughed heartily and felt inspired by each other. Above all, there was a very palpable commitment to be stronger, more confident, to listen and to be heard.
I’m truly grateful for the Design*Sponge community because just when I start to feel the state of affairs weighing on me, I’ll read a post or jump on an assignment that reminds me of this: creativity and design are important! We designers can make an impact. We do not have to be made of time or money to support the causes we believe in because we can think outside the box.
I hope this roundup of 10 socially conscious brands inspires you not only to support these creative businesses, but also to find your own voice and your own way to stand up for your causes. I know they inspired me. This is merely scratching the surface, so please share other inspiring businesses or projects to support in the comments below. —Quelcy
Though it may immediately bring to mind images of Alpine skiing chalets, the A-Frame is an ancient design originally found in Europe, Asia and even the Pacific Islands. Its steeply pitched roof not only gave it its name, but served residents well in areas that saw lots of rain and/or snow. Architects such as Andrew Geller, Henrik H. Bull, George Rockrise and more, helped the A-frame gain popularity in the 1950s as they began to utilize the design for vacation homes.
Due to the A-frame’s low construction costs and adaptability to different designs and terrain, it wasn’t long before retailers like Macy’s began selling prefabricated A-frame kits, which helped the style maintain popularity through the 1970s. Building on that nostalgia — and coupled with its versatility — the A-frame is popular once again with those looking for a unique getaway spot (and homeowners alike). —Allison
We love interior murals because they’re an investment — hopefully they’ll stand the test of time, become one of the most memorable elements of your home, and even become iconic. Whether you were lucky enough to purchase a home that already has one, are gifted enough to create one yourself, or are fortunate to be able to hire someone to create one, wall murals undoubtedly can “make” a room. We’ve rounded up a handful of our favorites, along with the artists (or homeowners) who created them to inspire your own future creations or commissions. –Rebekah
This season before spring is the least exciting in my book, but the cold, rainy days turn out to be a great chance to tackle indoor projects or spend time in a good book. As a kid, I could read anywhere — on the floor, in bed, or my favorite spot outside — but lately, I’ve found the need for just enough light, quiet and lots of pillows. Coziness is essential to block out distraction and let my mind settle into a story or study. Grey skies are a chance for imagination to come alive, and these 16 reading nooks from the archives seem like just the spaces to let that happen. —Bethany
In 2015, Tom’s company gave him and his wife Gumi the opportunity to pick up their lives in London and embrace the bustling, bright-colored streets of Bangkok, Thailand. Without hesitation, the duo was in. With a rich expat community and apartments that come fully or semi furnished, the spot they set out for and the transition there seemed made for ease. And thankfully both have been.
After a stint in another apartment, the couple ended up snagging this stellar pad in Sukhumvit, Bangkok. The building is lovely and modern, full of light and life as nearby restaurants and shops are go-go-going all the time. “It’s so exciting!” Gumi says of their new area. She’s found this exuberant Thai vibe so infectious it’s even had a major impact on her personal style. When it came to interior decor, Gumi used to favor kitsch and mid-century design enriched with a vintage touch. Nowadays, however, her home is more pared back with parts of it decorated in finds from the street vendors that sell right outside her front door. Plants, traditional Thai sarongs and patterned pillows are just a few of the local accoutrements she’s come to love.
But nothing has had more of an impact on the look of Gumi and Tom’s apartment than their little boys Keo and Sami. They’re both under the age of five, and their toys have managed to sneak into nearly all nooks of the home’s 1,000 square feet. At first, this nagged at Gumi. Her newfound aesthetic and contemporary taste weren’t made for messiness. In hopes of finding a compromise between form and function, she and Tom installed a big toy box in the living room with low shelves the boys could reach and boxes to keep all the toys visible and easy to access. That way there’s no unnecessary digging and cluttering. They also got their children’s artwork off of the table and onto the walls, making the boys proud and the apartment’s surfaces that much tidier.
While working to combat the clutter once and for all, Gumi and Tom had a realization. Yes they could work and work to make their home camera-ready all day every day, but in the end these strewn-about playthings give their home something they could never buy in a store. Each one is a tiny reminder that they have two little ones loving them daily. And that’s worth more than any spic-and-span home. Click through to check out how this family has embraced the compromise that is messy kiddos and crisp living. Enjoy! —Garrett
Photography by Gumi Matsumoto
This week has been a whirlwind of work behind the scenes here at D*S as we work on an exciting new launch (stay tuned in the next week or two!), plan a new print project and finalize details for some in-person events later this year. All this planning has been distracting me from the mountains of snow covering us at home and looking at the calendar for dates in April, May and June have been helpful reminders that warmer (and more colorful) days are ahead. Until then, Anna from Swallows & Damsons is here today with a beautiful, late-winter floral arrangement to cheer us up and bring some bright colors into our winter palette. Read on after the jump to learn about three beautiful arrangements she made using this season’s most vivid florals. xo, grace
- This brass hardware is so, so beautiful.
- Hooray for wallpapered rooms!
- This Sardinian modern treehouse is my dream come true.
- Bold colors in tiny bedrooms are always a great idea.
- Jeff Provan and Mariko have the most amazing Australian home.
- These vintage kitchen details are heavenly. I love the mix of old and new.
I have a soft spot for artists that work in a color palette that celebrates pinks and peaches. Those colors always speak to me and when you combine them with great texture, I’m sold. Artist, illustrator, designer and prop stylist Ashley Mary creates beautiful paintings that highlight my favorite color (pink) and details like gold leaf and mixed-media paper cuts. If you need a little pick-me-up today, head over to Ashley’s website or Instagram feed to check out more of her work. It’s a wonderful celebration of color, pattern and texture. xo, grace
It’s no surprise here on the column that I love dumplings, and that dumpling overload is a priority when I visit London and New York City. One of New York’s celebrated dumpling houses, Dumpling Galaxy, has just published a book by the same name, co-authored by its chef and owner, Helen You, and Saveur‘s Executive Digital Editor, Max Falkowitz. For those of you, like me, who can’t make it to Dumpling Shack on a regular basis, these Spicy Beef Dumplings with Raw Garlic Sauce are a small taste of what you’re missing. Use the dough recipe below to improvise with your own fillings until you get your ticket to visit Queens! —Kristina
Photography by Ed Anderson
Having a fireplace is on the must-have list for most people I know that are house-hunting. It’s a focal point around which to anchor a room — other than a television. It welcomes conversation and encourages guests to stay a little while longer. Depending on the shape they’re in, the era they were built and the materials used, not all fireplaces are automatically cohesive in a space. While they seem untouchable and hard to transform because of their size, character or style, there are actually several ways to update and make-over such a prominent element of a space. These 10 Before & Afters showcase what some imagination can do to create cohesion between a homeowner’s style and the fireplace. –Lauren
As the snow continues to pile higher and higher around our house (poor Hope got stuck in the snow in our yard last night and I had to come get her out!), I find myself dreaming of sunny vacations at the beach and bright patterns to go with them. As much as I’ve tried to embrace winter whites and cozy neutrals, these colors just feel like the jolt of energy and sunlight I need on this long stretch of cold winter days. Hopefully these cheerful patterns and hues will pick you up, too! xo, grace
Image above, clockwise from top left: Josef Frank Spaces Book $35, Key Strap $16, Wild Confetti Clutch $98, Jeweled Bugs Scarf $375, Palomitas Mini Backpack $158, Indigo Tray $550, Round Cushion $160, Mipo Fountain Pen $25
I have this thing with shop decor — how shops merchandise, decorate for the seasons, what they do with their windows — I love it all. It goes back to when I was nine and traveled to New York City for the first time. I remember being so taken with shops there. It was January and even though it was cold and rainy outside, all the shops were so inviting and warm, because of the effort they had put into decorating for the season. The restaurants took that same road, from the art on the walls to the arrangements on the tables, each place where we ate paid attention to how the customer felt when they walked in. These retail spaces fostered a special environment, a warm place, one that you wanted to return to, over and over.
I’ve rounded up 10 places that give me that same sort of feeling I got when I was a child in NYC. Spots from London to Los Angeles, shops and restaurants, that all pay special attention to the feeling they will leave you with — or maybe something that draws you in, in the first place. —Erin
Seeing potential in a new house can be challenging. As fun as it is to watch real estate shows where a virtual mock-up of what could be accompanies each home showing, it’s not real life. Even for interior designers and decorators, inspiration isn’t going to come immediately. It takes work to uncover the design possibilities each space holds. For Vanessa Francis, the task was even harder because she and her daughter were moving into a much smaller house after her husband passed away last year.
Vanessa, an interior decorator, purchased a home five months ago in Milton, Ontario. Its smaller footprint compared to her previous house in the same town meant Vanessa had to get creative with utilizing the space well. “Since the home is over a thousand [square] feet smaller than our previous home, it was a challenge to lay out the furniture, especially in the open-concept living and dining room which runs parallel to the kitchen,” Vanessa explains. She started imagining and redesigning the space to serve her and daughter Maya well. “I really wanted the home to be more us and have our stamp on it. It was a typical builder home with next to no upgrades and it felt dark and sad. I wanted to lighten and pretty it up for my daughter and me. I know it sounds corny, but I wanted our new home to be a peaceful and happy haven for us after our devastating loss.” For the kitchen, that meant white cabinets, glass upper cabinets and a large blue island with plenty of room for Maya to do homework or for dinner guests to congregate.
Scraping the ceiling, installing new flooring, painting the walls and the cabinet installation all happened in three weeks before Vanessa and Maya moved in. “When we first saw the home, all the walls were a dark grey, the kitchen cabinets were dark brown and there was a combination of dark laminate and cheap floor tiles throughout the space. I wanted to brighten and simplify the space. Getting the shell right — floors, walls and ceiling — was important,” Vanessa shares. Once they moved in, Vanessa finished the kitchen remodel with drapes, stools and accessories. The kitchen before the makeover was short on counter space and cabinets because of a small eat-in dining area competing for square footage. Vanessa knew that expanding her workspace, increasing the pantry size and creating a more beautiful space would serve her better than an extra eating nook.
The result is a beautifully designed space. The blue-green island, moldings, and built-in look of the wall-to-wall white cabinets give the once dark and cut-off kitchen a new and lovely life. “I am most thankful that my daughter and I have a warm and peaceful home where we can heal and be happy again.” –Lauren
Photography by Ashley Capp
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