DIY Branch Ladder

DIY Branch Ladder

DIY Branch Ladder by Mandi of Vintage Revivals for Design*Sponge
Natural elements have the power to make even the best spaces look a little bit better. There are endless ways you can bring some of the outside in, but one of my favorite ways is working with branches. This simple ladder project would be a great way to display blankets, treasured pieces of vintage fabric or just your daily bath towels. For the holidays, I decided to string the ladder with lights to add a more festive feel, but you could add just about any detail (garland, small wreaths or ribbons) and it will look fantastic. -Mandi of Vintage Revivals

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15 Gift Subscriptions for the Holidays

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15 Gift Subscriptions for the Holidays

Nothing will ever beat a handmade gift or experience in my book, but gifts that continue throughout the year are a close second for me. I love the idea of something do-it-yourself that a friend or loved one can redeem well after the holidays, but not everyone has the spare time to put those packages together. So today I decided to select my top 15 gift subscription packages for design goods, music, books, coffee and everything else in between. If you’re looking for something quick and easy you can order online that keeps the holiday spirit going well after December, these are great options. I made a conscious effort to focus this guide primarily on independent companies, so anyone concerned can shop and order away but still support small, indie businesses at the same time. xo, grace

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In the Hudson Valley, Room for Work and Play

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In the Hudson Valley, Room for Work and Play

One thing I love about writing Sneak Peeks is the occasional opportunity to revisit the home of someone we’ve featured in the past. It is not unusual, of course, for a space to have changed dramatically, as many design-oriented individuals are in a constant state of collecting and trying out new ideas in their homes. What is even more interesting, however, is to see how one has adapted one’s style in a completely new home or context. With this, we are able to see how style evolves through time, space and even lifestyle changes. That happens to be the case today as we check back in with Kevin Burke and David Kimelman, a mere year and a half after we featured their Clinton Hill home.

This peek is a powerful testament to how much life can change in a short amount of time, as they have since moved out of New York City, are raising twin baby boys, and running their new business, BURKELMAN, out of their home. While they’ve certainly carried over some of the overall aesthetic of their previous space—described by them as 60s science, magic and the natural world— their new Hudson Valley home is decidedly more grown up and kid-friendly. Pre-parenthood, Kevin and David were hosting lively parties that included such things as caviar, potato vodka shots and everyone dancing to Robyn. Since becoming parents, however, they’ve swapped out the ragers for intimate dinner parties with the neighbors.

As if family life isn’t keeping them busy enough, their other labor of love is BURKELMAN. The online shop offers a unique collection of home decor and accessories with a focus on quality craftsmanship. David works on the photography and graphic design while Kevin is the buyer and stylist. As the business grows, so does the amount of space it takes up in the house, as it started on the garden level and has now made its way to the attic and other rooms throughout their home. Who knows what the next year and a half will bring, but it’s apparent that this space will allow their family plenty of room to grow. -Shannon

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25 Inspiring Collections

Inspiring Photos from the #DSCollections Hashtag Challenge at Design*Sponge

25 Inspiring Collections

I haven’t been able to put down my copy of Collected: Living with the Things You Love since it arrived a few weeks ago. While I tend to be a fan of anything former Martha staffers do, this book is especially inspiring for me. I’ve been trying to learn to live with less for a while now, but I always have a soft spot for people who know how to collect and display their favorite things creatively at home. So for our last hashtag challenge of the year, we decided to ask people to share their favorite collections with us. From beautiful vintage Swarovski crystals and buttons to vintage baking tins and stamps, the creative community has an incredible eye for displaying collections. So this week I sorted through the nearly 3,000 entries and chose my 25 favorite photos to inspire your next great collection. I love that even the simplest thing (like mushrooms!) can become artwork when framed in a simple box top. Here’s to collections that celebrate the everyday! xo, grace

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Biz Ladies: Your Most Overlooked Biz Success Secret

Biz Ladies: Your Most Overlooked Biz Success Secret

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Running your own business can often feel like a series of  “trial and error” moments. Attempting to find the methods and systems that work best and most effectively can be a bumpy road and leave you questioning your abilities. Jen Louden, a personal growth pioneer who helped launch the self-care movement with her first book, The Woman’s Comfort Book, understands better than anyone how self-doubt can plague your biz. She’s the author of five additional books on well-being and whole living, including The Life Organizer, that have inspired more than a million women in nine languages. Jen has spoken around the world on self-care, written a national magazine column, and even sat on Oprah’s couch talking about the power of retreats. She believes self-love + world-love = wholeness for all, and today she offers some advice on how to infuse more instinctual trust and less doubt into your business. Trust in your success and it will happen. -Stephanie  

Read the full post after the jump…

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A Minimal and Liveable New Zealand Home By The Beach

Michelle's open concept kitchen/dining/living space is flooded with plenty of light thanks to the pitched roof, large windows, high ceilings and lighting from Muuto and Eric Therner.

A Minimal and Liveable New Zealand Home By The Beach

I often shy away from super-minimal and/or newer-build homes in favor of the charm and comfort of an older home, but blogger, writer and stylist Michelle Halford’s nest may have me taking that back. Surrounded by mature trees and close to the eastern beaches, her home in Auckland, New Zealand delivers on function, comfort and livability.

At the center of Michelle’s busy world is her husband and IT architect Dean Grimmond, her two sons Roman (7) and Marlow (4), and her career. As someone who works from home with two young boys, Michelle’s life and schedule—needless to say—is busy. So it was important to her that her home worked with her lifestyle, not against it. To her, this meant making the big leap to minimal; stripping everything she didn’t need in her surroundings and focusing on the basics. Nestled in Meadowbank, their home was a new build made just for them by boutique building company Property Partners. As soon as she and Dean picked the lot, Michelle didn’t skip a beat and began excitedly planning the design of the interior. She spent months dreaming up what was soon to become a reality, documenting it all on her blog, The Design Chaser. Her passion project took eight months and lots of planning, but the result is stunning. “Having a clear vision definitely made it easier,” Michelle says. “While it could be a little overwhelming at times, I was very decisive and never agonized over all the choices that I had to make when it came to the interior design.” Michelle’s design injects just the right amount of personality and Scandinavian style while still being comfortable and lived-in. -Sabrina

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Sean Brock’s Cornbread Recipe

Sean Brock’s Cornbread Recipe

Excerpted from Heritage by Sean Brock (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2014. Photographs by Peter Frank Edwards
There is nothing more nostalgic than the smell of food from your childhood. Growing up, I had two favorite corn dishes, spoonbread and cornbread. Both are southern staples, but cornbread seems to be experiencing a real revival across American restaurant menus. I order it just about any time I see it, but none have been as overwhelmingly flavorful and evocative of dinners at my Grandma Nita’s house as the cornbread at Sean Brock’s restaurant Husk in Charleston, South Carolina.

Excerpted from Heritage by Sean Brock (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2014. Photographs by Peter Frank Edwards
Sean’s devotion to heirloom grains, seeds, produce and meat is something I truly admire. Although he’s been famous in the food world for some time now, I learned about him primarily through his stint as a host on my favorite television show, Mind of a Chef. Sean’s recipes are all about bringing back ingredients and traditions of the low country and his beautiful new cookbook, Heritage, celebrates that region’s diverse cooking styles with a reverence and level of research that’s rarely seen. What struck me most about Heritage, in addition to the delicious food, was how much work Sean puts into connecting the traditions we associate with southern cooks with their roots in Africa. To say that the reasons behind those connections are unfortunate would be a massive understatement, but Sean takes an honest look at the way the slave trade affected early food in the south and how those ingredients and cooking styles connect to our contemporary kitchens. Heritage is equal parts recipe and history book and I am so glad to see more southern chefs digging deeper into the roots behind the food we make and enjoy today. Speaking of enjoying, I’m thrilled to be sharing my favorite of Sean’s recipes, his cornbread, here on DS today. It is perfect for the holidays, but it is equally delicious at any other time, day or event. You just cannot beat the crispy edges and soft, pillowy corn center. xo, grace

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Printable Freebie: Woodland Gift Tags

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Printable Freebie: Woodland Gift Tags

Not to send anybody into a blind panic, but it’s officially crunch time: Christmas is less than ten days away. If you’re anything like me, this time of year will find you frantically running around doing all of the holiday shopping you should have been doing months ago like a responsible, level-headed adult. If you’re feeling the pressure of the holidays building—both temporally and financially—don’t worry. We gotchu. While we can’t foot the bill for your holiday presents (that’s on you, dear reader), we can try to lighten your load with a fun lil freebie—gift tags! Download the template for these woodland-themed cuties, print them out on some card stock, and you’re one step closer to finishing your holiday to-dos like a CHAMP. Happy wrapping! —Max

Gift wrap from Linda & Harriett’s 2015 Gift Wrap Calendar.

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We Bought a Home!

Design*Sponge: Grace & Julia's New (Old) Home, The "Before" Photos

We Bought a Home!

Last Friday, Julia and I packed up our tiny car with as many essentials as we could fit and we drove upstate to sign the contract on our new home! It’s tempting to insert about 10,000 exclamation points here, but I’ll leave it at this: the process taught us a lot about patience, the emotional nature of buying (and selling) a home and how much you have to leave things to fate to see how they turn out. But after all was said and done, we are both thrilled (and scared and excited!) to call this incredible old house our home.

Earlier this year, after spending a lot of time in and around the Catskills for vacation and our honeymoon, we decided to consider looking for a home upstate. We planned on casually looking, but what happened was a (wonderful) whirlwind that led to our dream home. After seeing a promising listing, we called an agent who was highly suggested by our friends and drove upstate with Julia’s family to look around. We saw five houses the first day, and the fifth ended up being the home we would eventually call our own. It needs a lot of love and some work, but we can’t wait to get started. (Read on for the full story, photos and the history of our over 150-year-old home) xo, grace

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Postwar Construction Meets Prewar Charm in Victoria

The dining room.

Postwar Construction Meets Prewar Charm in Victoria

I have a moderately unproven and probably not-all-that-accurate theory that shopkeepers and restauranteurs are preternaturally adept when it comes to the task of homemaking. If you think about it, the skill set and networking needs of both vocations are strangely similar—you need to know how to entertain, how make people comfortable, how to arrange a beautiful centerpiece, and who to call when you need something fixed or built. This is why, when it came time to purchase a home for their growing family, Carey and Erv Salvador seemed enviably cut out for the job. Carey is the owner of a charming vintage clothing and homewares shop called Pigeonhole and Salvator is the restauranteur behind two Vancouver-area restaurants—The Whip and Lucy’s East Side Diner. Like a pair of decor-inclined Planeteers,  the couple’s biz-savvy powers were able to combine to transform a 1952 Victoria, BC house into a show-stopping, timeless home with aesthetics and references that span centuries.

With a little help from their contractor friend Mack Kurtz, the couple was able to swiftly expedite the renovation process, making the home move-in ready over the course of just one summer. Afterwards, it was all about adding a little charm! Beautiful hardware, vintage pieces, and objects culled from Carey’s store add old world character to the home and spaces have been creatively reinvented to maximize comfort and entertaining possibilities—an unused room was transformed into a miniature espresso bar; the kitchen and dining room combined for a warm space perfect for small parties. Overall, with four bedrooms and beauty to spare, the home is the perfect abode for a growing, creative family. —Max

Photographs by Kelly Brown

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A Mix of Old and New in Charleston, SC

Erin Connelly and Brooks Reitz's Charleston, SC Home on Design*Sponge

A Mix of Old and New in Charleston, SC

Nothing makes me happier than hearing about artists and designers moving to (or staying in) the south to set up shop and be a part of the incredible communities there. There’s just something so special about what’s happening in the deep south right now, both in food and design, that is worth investing in and celebrating. I’ve loved getting to peek inside several beautiful Charleston, South Carolina homes and today, I’m thrilled to share another gorgeous Low Country home.

This 1930s craftsman belongs to Erin Connelly and Brooks Reitz, a couple that know a thing or two about great style. Erin is the co-owner of The-Commons, an incredible online shop that curates American-made goods, and Brooks is an entrepreneur who owns Jack Rudy Cocktail Co and two restaurants in Charleston, Leon’s Oyster Shop and the soon-to-open St. Alban (both of which he designed himself!). After spending many a Sunday walking through their Wagener Terrace/ North Central neighborhood, Erin and Brooks decided to start peeking into windows and yards to see if anything was for sale. They were looking for a home that was small, move-in ready and full of charm and historic details. When they stumbled upon this home four months ago, they fell in love with the cozy kitchen, clawfoot tub and the extra bedroom that was perfect for visits with Finn, Brooks’ son. While they’ve only been in their new space for a few months, they’ve already created a space that expertly mixes their love for contemporary, American-made design with pieces from their travels and treasured hand-me-downs from family. xo, grace
Photographs by Olivia Rae James

 

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25 Books to Give as Gifts This Year

25 Books to Give as Gifts This Year

Design*Sponge 2014 Gift Guide: 25 Great Books to Give as Gifts
This year was an incredible year for books. From stunning art and photography books to helpful interior design and do-it-yourself guides and delicious cookbooks, my wish list for reading this year seems to go on and on. I love giving books as gifts because they’re the gift that keeps on giving. Whether someone returns to a book to cook new recipes, consult for design advice or just be inspired again, there are endless ways to personalize books and make them something people will treasure for years to come. And if you want to add a little DIY extra to your book gift, here are a few great ideas: Free printable gemstone bookplates, DIY plaid book jackets, fabric pyramid bookends and digital bookplates (for gifting digital readers). xo, grace

*Please consider supporting independent bookstores if you can! Indiebound will let you search for any book and find the closest shop to you that stocks it. Click here to find stores near you.

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Unfolded Wallpaper Inspired by Origami

Unfolded Wallpaper Inspired by Origami

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Over the past 10 years, I’ve written about thousands of new products. Some designs come and go, but there are always a few that stick with me as truly innovative and beautiful. For me, the most memorable design that, sadly, never ended up coming to market, was Dutch designer Hannah Allijn‘s incredible origami-inspired curtain. On the surface, it looks like a flat curtain, but when pulled, it condenses like a beautifully crumpled piece of paper to let the sun in. I’ve had that design in my mind for years now, and I always get excited to see any new home good that takes its inspiration from origami. The latest is a piece that I also love, the Unfolded series of wallpaper from Sidonie Loiseleux.

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Inspired by the intricate folds of origami and the patterns it leaves behind on paper, Sidonie created five new styles that represent different folds. The finished paper is based on a photograph so it lays flat, but still has the look of texture and shadows that comes from a three dimensional piece of folded paper. White walls are sometimes a bit too sparse for me, so I love the idea of this as a spin on the look, but with a bit more detail and fun. Click here to check out the Unfolded series from Sidonie Loiseleux. xo, grace

Skye McAlpine’s Putizza Recipe

Skye McAlpine’s Putizza Recipe

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year! I was already playing my Christmas music before Thanksgiving, when I had a memory of eating a gubana, a traditional sweet bread eaten during the festivities in the Friuli region of Italy, that I tasted for the first time around Christmas here with a family in Padova. It was pure coincidence that Skye McAlpine, a freelance writer and the author of the blog From My Dining Table, suggested we enjoy a recipe for a putizza, a sweet bread with a filling of chocolate, raisins, walnuts, and Skye’s own twist – tarragon butter. Skye lives in London, but she grew up in Venice, where her family home remains. Though the putizza is not strictly a Christmas sweet, it is a Christmas morning tradition in Skye’s family. It is a beautiful sweet bread, and if you have a baking tradition in your family around the holidays, it would be a lovely addition to a party or holiday meal. Skye encourages you to use her recipe only as a guide, adapting the filling to your own tastes and whims. -Kristina

About Skye: Skye McAlpine is a freelance writer and passionate home cook. She writes the blog From My Dining Table, an online cookbook of sorts, which explores the food and hidden secrets of Venice, her hometown. When she is not cooking, eating or reading Latin love poetry (she is currently wrapping up a PhD in ancient literature), she contributes recipes to a number of online publications, including the Huffington Post. Find her on: Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.

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