Design*Sponge

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Bilbao, Spain City Guide

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Just the name of the region – “Basque Country” – evokes scenes of rolling hills, gorgeous people dining al fresco, and a calm serenity of the sea…among many other glamorous things. While I’ve never personally been, Basque Country native, Patricia Palacios, confirms my visions and shares the many gems the city of Bilbao (part of the Basque region) has to offer. After traveling extensively throughout the world, she is back home in the Basque Country, working on her latest project, Eusko Guide, a travel guide dedicated to promoting this special and little known region of northern Spain and southern France. Patricia is also the author and creator of the Bilbao Travel Guide app for the iPhone. So if you happen to be journeying to this region, be sure to reference this amazing guide and check out the many additional resources Patricia has for you. -Stephanie

Read the full guide after the jump…

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A Catskills Vacation Home Designed with Friends & Family in Mind

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We’ve been sharing the work of Tara Mangini and Percy Bright of Jersey Ice Cream Co. since 2010, and they are certainly one of my favorite designing couples. They have a casual, laid-back approach to decorating that emphasizes DIY and found objects so their projects never feel unattainable – in fact, I’m usually bookmarking ideas to try myself (Yes please, lion-head towel holder.). The owners purchased this late 18th century Catskills house to serve as a vacation retreat from their New York City life. They brought Tara and Percy in to design a big, creative retreat for everyone in their lives. To really appreciate the work that the couple did on the home, you have to see some of the before photos – so check out this Before & After.

When Tara and Percy redo a home, they move in and work on the project nonstop. Initially, they felt overwhelmed by the massive amount of furniture and the multicolor paint job in the house. Only when they got the furniture out of the house and primed everything with white, could they really get a sense of the direction of the project. The biggest challenge was doing the kitchen and master bathroom toward the end of the project rather than the beginning. And doing those projects at the same time meant that there was a period where they were doing dishes and showering in the same very tiny tub. They’ve resolved that next time, they’ll get the messy projects out of the way first! But the final result – a space that’s approachable, comfortable and has just a little sense of magic – is one that the family will appreciate for years to come. And Tara and Percy? They’re already on to the next thing. We can’t wait to see what it is. -Amy

Photography by Beth Kirby of Local Milk

If you want to see more from Jersey Ice Cream Co., check out:

Image above: “This is a detail from the front room. We wanted things to feel really rich right when you come in the door, so you walk through the leaf-and-key covered entryway into this room,” says Tara. “I love the different patterns in the rug and couch and how surprisingly well they work together. We knew we wanted to do some gallery style walls, so we had our eye out for great artwork all throughout the job. The woman in the portrait had kind of a scary face, so we covered it up with old love letters. That’s an old trick from my low-budget designing days. “

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Image above: “This is a shot of the kitchen as you would see it if you walked into the room. I love that this kitchen looks good no matter what. We added that shelf with nails unexpectedly, and it makes things look beautifully cluttered at all times. You can throw any pot or pan up there and it just works. Effortless design is great in any space, but in a kitchen, it’s a dream. “

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See more of this transformed vacation home after the jump!
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A Multifunctional Apartment in Brooklyn

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Furniture designer Katy Skelton Acuff and her husband Drew Acuff – who’s in the process of completing a graduate degree in publishing – have called Brooklyn’s neighborhood of Crown Heights home for the last three years, but they just transitioned to this two-bedroom apartment in May. For Katy, it’s more than just home, it’s also her furniture workshop. So it was important they find a place with a second bedroom so she could shut the door and contain the mess at the end of the workday. Luckily, they found this apartment, in a building built in the 1800s, right around the corner from their old apartment, which certainly made moving a simple prospect. With great light, high ceilings and an open-plan living space, they were smitten right away. And when they saw the balcony, they were sold, put down a deposit on the spot and got the keys just one week later. The apartment had been recently renovated so there wasn’t much to do other than change out some of the light fixtures. Now they have a space that functions equally well as a workshop, home office, study space for Drew and, with the open-plan living room/kitchen, entertaining space for friends. -Amy

Photography by Maxwell Tielman

Image above: “Our living room is my favorite room in the house,” says Katy. “We get so much light and have huge windows and a glass door that we keep open almost all the time. Drew is a grad student and while he has a desk in the office, he often works on the sofa with his laptop. The sconce is from One Forty Three, and the vintage kilim pillow is from Etsy. The sofa is actually from IKEA. We bought a cover from Knesting and legs from Uncle Bob’s Workshop to make it look a little nicer. The coffee table and tray are from my line.”

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Image above: “In the bedroom, I made custom Round Zelda Tables from my furniture line. Since they don’t have drawers, I use a candy dish from my grandmother’s house to hold lotion and Chapstick. The cleat on the wall reminds me of my dad, who took me sailing all the time when I was growing up. The light is a prototype for my line, and the art is a tiny embroidered textile that I got this last summer when I took my sister to San Jose del Cabo for her bachelorette weekend.”

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See more of this Brooklyn apartment after the jump!

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Sneak Peek: Best of Brass

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Of all the metallic trends in the past few years, it feels like brass has become the most ubiquitous. This may be attributed to the fact that it looks pretty similar to gold, but tends to be more affordable. It also possesses a unique versatility in that it looks great whether it’s polished to a flawless shine or weathered with a bit of patina. It can feel simultaneously warm or cool, blending in with most any color palette. Brass can be strikingly bold, modern and industrial paired with minimal black and white details, or softer and more romantic, mixed in with vintage decor. Here is a round up of our favorites, a collection that we think will appeal to almost any style. -Shannon

Image above: One of the best examples of brass that we have ever featured, Farah searched high and low for this brass oven hood to install in her Brooklyn kitchen, ultimately finding it on eBay.

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Image above: The elegant brass vase in this London home is actually a vintage cartridge shell.

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Image above: These brass Lindsay Adelman DIY lamps have become quite popular in the last couple of years, and look great against the crown molding in this Brooklyn apartment.

See more examples of brass after the jump…

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New: Makelike Wallpapers

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After years of looking at thousands wallpaper patterns, there are still a handful of designs that stand out to me. Trustworth’s ‘Apothecary’s Garden’ is a favorite of mine (we used it in Amy Merrick’s home tour for Design*Sponge at Home and it’s coming up today’s 1pm sneak peek) as well as Makelike’s cactus wallpaper from 2009. So whenever I see Makelike’s name pop up in my email, I get excited.

Makelike Wallpaper at DesignSponge
These new patterns from Makelike’s latest series, the Shapes Collection, designed by Hanna Durighello, were inspired by drafting paper, mountains and traditional Moroccan rugs. Tara from Makelike explained that their design goal was to create something that felt good in both traditional and modern spaces and, upon closer inspection, would still reveal texture in character in a seemingly purely geometric pattern. That hand-drawn quality is what always draws me to Makelike’s papers. I love when a paper has the strong lines and the design integrity to stand on its own in a room, but still has a bit of a handmade feel that has a softness and a realness to it. These new designs have that quality in spades so I can’t wait to see them installed in a home.

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Mary also designed a sweet floral wallpaper, Perennial, designed by Mary Kysar, to include in the launch as well. I always have a soft spot for floral prints, so I couldn’t resist sharing this today, too. If you’re interested in checking out any of Makelike’s wallpapers, you can view their website and place orders online right here. xo, grace

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Leah Goren Gift Wrap + Best of the Web

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As I drove up through the Catskill mountains today on my way to photograph Hudson Made’s Andes, NY studio (on the site next week!), it suddenly dawned on me that fall is officially here. The crisp air this morning had forced me to don a thick sweater and now the view through my windshield was nothing but red, orange and yellow-dappled trees—a true sign of the season if there ever was one. Celebrating fall comes in a lot of forms, but here at D*S, we tend to prefer the quiet moments spent inside on chilly days, cuddling up with our furry, four-legged friends. If that sounds like your cup of tea (and why wouldn’t it?), we know you’ll love the new gift wrap we’ve been crushing on lately—a fabulous collaboration between artist Leah Goren and the paper goods company Knot & BowI mean, come on, who doesn’t love a good cat print? Check out some more of the collection here, here, and here! Have a lovely autumn weekend everyone! xx Max

Above: Leah Goren’s Black & White Cat Gift Wrap

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Above: Leah Goren’s Indigo Cat Gift Wrap

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Below is a summary of this week’s highlights:

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