Home Ec: 6 Books to Inspire and Help with Decluttering

This book covers decluttering, but also gets into the mindset behind why it can be nice to minimize what you keep and have in your home. For me, one of its finest points is the chapter on embracing space- which is something that can happen when you get rid of a lot of things. It can be stressful to feel like your home is "empty", but this book will talk about how to live with that look and feel.

Home Ec: 6 Books to Inspire and Help with Decluttering

Julia and I are having a yard sale in a few weeks and it’s been refreshing to continue to cut down on the things we own and focus on things that mean something to us or serve a highly functional purpose. Not only does it mean the visual clutter is at a minimum, but it also means that when we end our work days and sit down to relax, things around us feel simpler and easier to use. Everyone has a different method of cleaning up and finding their version of simplicity at home, but it was wonderful to watch how this book by Marie Kondo inspired people across the globe to do away with clutter and embrace a version of minimalism.

Whether you’re looking to minimize and pare down to essentials, or just organize and decorate your home in a way that makes you feel calm and relaxed, I thought today I would share a few books that will help walk you through the process of simplifying your life at home. This isn’t to make your home empty and devoid of character, but instead to make room for your most cherished pieces and meaningful design decisions to shine. 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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Best of the National Stationery Show: Gold Foil

Ferme A Papier at the 2015 NSS.

Best of the National Stationery Show: Gold Foil

I was never much into gold. Whether in jewelry, stationery, or furniture design, gold always seemed to be trying too hard to show off. However, as times change, so do trends and personal taste. At this year’s National Stationery Show, it was the gleaming bits of gold foil that surprisingly caught my eye. I saw this technique at countless booths — a special kind of printing process that uses heat, pressure, and foil to create a slightly raised impression. Many designers showcased gold foil stamping in simple, yet decisive ways, adding a feeling of luxury to their collections. With the metallic accent employed to accompany an abstract pattern, stand alone as a typographical element — or in the case of Ferme À Papier, as a literal translation of the golden ratio — these designs made a case for the allure of gold and changed my mind for good. The following 10 designs are some of my favorites from the show. They’re not showy or gaudy, but are rather beautiful in their simplicity, reminding me of an elegantly dressed woman with just a hint of gold around her neck. X, Emma

Photography by Emma Tuccillo

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Before & After: Jason’s Portland Office

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Before & After: Jason’s Portland Office

Julia and I live in a small hamlet (I love that word) in upstate New York which has a number of abandoned buildings that are just asking to be given a second chance. One of my biggest dreams is to makeover our tiny “main street” stretch and create new spaces for artists, retail and other commercial prospects, but in the meantime, I’m living vicariously through other people who are buying and renovating old buildings that need a little love.

This makeover comes from Jason Leonard, who runs a poster restoration business called Affiche Studio. Jason recently bought a building in Portland, OR that he’s been slowing transforming into a bright, modern space for his business. Along the way he’s documented his process on Instagram (#archipelagopdx) and today he’s sharing photos of the finished space here! I love seeing all the work he’s done in six months, but I also love seeing that little building painted with such a sleek black exterior. I’ve always wanted to try that up here, so this is giving me a little inspiration to work on a proposal for some renovations upstate. In the meantime, click through to see Jason’s full building makeover. xo, grace

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A Neat and Tidy Home by The Bay

A Neat and Tidy Home by The Bay, Design*Sponge

A Neat and Tidy Home by The Bay

Overlooking a communal garden in San Francisco, minimalists Cary and Cam Fortin’s two-bedroom home is an exercise in restraint. The two have done such a fantastic job putting it together, you would never know that they are living with only 35 pieces of clothing each and with just the basics. By employing decluttering methods she uses with her clients at New Minimalism, Cary has been able to train herself to live with less while still maintaining a truly personal and layered abode. “I believe that the relationship we have with our space is a powerful one, and I wanted this space to add to our lives and encourage us to be our most inspired and adventurous selves,” Cary says.

The airiness, bedroom balcony and french doors immediately drew the couple to the apartment while on the hunt for a new home in the Bay Area. Originally, the two had a vast array of disparate furniture that didn’t exactly serve to showcase the merging of their two styles. Through decluttering, however, they were able to toss a third of their shared possessions and start building this home together. Fast forward five years, and the 1920s-era spot truly captures Cam and Cary’s original vision of a space that is restful, serene and creative. “In the past, I’ve hesitated to invest in a rental, but each time we have, it’s been incredible,” Cary says. “Had I known five years ago we’d still be here, I would have done everything right away.”

Far too often the expectations for what is considered “minimalism” are set at an unattainable degree. That’s why I find Cary and Cam’s home so refreshing. It ushers in a new way of perceiving the movement by showing what a contemporary and lively family deems “the essentials.” It also doesn’t hurt when that family has impeccable taste, like these two. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Ryan Devisser

 

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NYCxDESIGN 2015 Trends We Love: Terrestrial Textures

NYCxDESIGN 2015 Trends We Love: Terrestrial Textures, on Design*Sponge

NYCxDESIGN 2015 Trends We Love: Terrestrial Textures

While the physical strain of NYCxDESIGN has many longing for an early summer vacation, the following finds thrust that desire out of this world. Whether attempting to capture the impression that a wiry tree casts upon a small child, or to replicate slices of earthen materials in hallucinatory colors, or even to imagine looking down upon the atmosphere of another planet from our present perch, this year designers are translating their impressions of the universe at every scale. Walking the shows focuses attention on an endless display of exquisite, earthly items, but these inspired designs serve as a welcome reminder of the humble beauty inherent in our natural world. Feel free to share your favorite terrestrial textured finds in the comments! —Annie

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NYCxDESIGN 2015 Trends We Love: Contemporary Quilting

NYCxDESIGN 2015 Trends We Love: Contemporary Quilting, on Design*Sponge

NYCxDESIGN 2015 Trends We Love: Contemporary Quilting

Makers throughout NYCxDESIGN toiled at the intersection between modern technology and traditional handicrafts. While the following finds are all artisan-made, the objects contain varying levels of discernible computer input. Some patchwork pieces suggest only a hint of digital intervention in their geometric motifs or chic textures, while others take tech further by employing programming to determine the very look of a final product. We feel inspired by these reconciliatory efforts, the designs that pay so much reverence to old ways while ingeniously incorporating tools available at the present moment. Feel free to share your favorite contemporary quilted pieces from the shows in the comments! —Annie

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NYCxDESIGN 2015 Trends We Love: Skeletal Bentwood

NYCxDESIGN 2015 Trends We Love: Skeletal Bentwood, on Design*Sponge

NYCxDESIGN 2015 Trends We Love: Skeletal Bentwood

We admired dozens of innovative fabrication techniques and futuristic building materials throughout two weeks of NYCxDESIGN happenings, but good old bentwood most piqued our curiosity about how things are made. As contemporary designers continue to evolve the methods pioneered by Thonet in the 1850s, the shapes they create are able to curve and undulate in gradual increments that resemble the familiar cage of vertebrate ribs. Whether finished with a skin-like cladding or without, the wooden frames represent form and function in one design element. Feel free to share your favorite skeletal bentwood pieces in the comments! —Annie

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NYCxDESIGN 2015 Trends We Love: Graffiti Print

NYCxDESIGN 2015 Trends We Love: Graffiti Print, on Design*Sponge

NYCxDESIGN 2015 Trends We Love: Graffiti Print

The fortnight of events comprising NYCxDESIGN (formerly known as New York Design Week to any old-school attendees in the house) has finally come to a close, marking a particularly robust annual showing at the citywide festival of events revolving around all things design. Our collective cultural consciousness sometimes inspires artists and makers with similar concepts iterated in vastly different ways. Our first trend pick of the season is the inky, hand-drawn graffiti markings threaded throughout many shows this season. While brush script lettering has become popular over the past few years, the bold, angular movements of these latest stroke patterns and murals feel more like frenetic 1980s Keith Haring than homespun calligraphy. Whether the trend is a reaction to all the stark, neat geometry that’s synonymous with Brooklyn design exports right now, or instead is sparked by the popularity of kuba cloth textiles for their organic yet graphic vibes, contrasting hand-drawn graffiti print is having a moment. Feel free to share your favorites in the comments! —Annie

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In Sweden, a Family’s First Home

In Sweden, a Family's First Home, Design*Sponge

In Sweden, a Family’s First Home

I am currently contemplating whether or not it’s time to find a new apartment. There are so many factors to consider, that it’s sometimes hard for me to feel the excitement through the dull logistics. My wish list is set, but just getting started on the hunt is daunting. Once I finally pull the trigger I know I won’t regret it, but until then, I will just have to live vicariously through others who are moving into exciting new homes — like Malin and Maurice.

Two years ago, Maurice moved to Örebro, Sweden to be with his love. With Malin by his side they began renting this 4-room apartment, conveniently located near both the outdoors and the city center. Being able to bike to work, a front and backyard for the kids, and a location in a fantastic neighborhood made the apartment a clear winner for the family. Malin is studying to become an interior stylist and home-staging consultant, so she uses the new home to test her skills. Initially, the space was a bit messy, but a new coat of white wallpaper immediately helped the home feel both brighter and cleaner.

The style of Malin and Maurice’s home is always in flux. With two boys running around — something that probably won’t be changing soon — the original goal will always remain the same: to have a space that’s “… a mix of vintage with classic design pieces, art, and wood,” Malin says. Abundant light, a pointed view on color and a growing family are just some of the best parts of today’s sneak peek. Click on through to take it all in. Enjoy!  —Garrett

Photography by Malin Montelius

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D*S Quarterly Box #2: COLOR!

D*S Quarterly Box #2: COLOR!

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Last year we started a project with Quarterly designed to bring you a box of thoughtfully chosen home and design products four times a year. Our first box, dedicated to pattern, was a big hit (whew) and I thought long and hard about how best to shape the second collection.

The majority of subscription services like this focus on quantity over quality, and I understand why. It’s fun to get a box chock-full of tiny things wrapped in plastic that cost next to nothing. But that model has never been one that worked for me. DS operates on a simple mission to celebrate and support independent and small-scale design and the artists behind it. These small-scale and mostly handmade goods we focus on are produced by people paid a fair wage in an ethical work environment, so they tend to come with higher price points and don’t work in a bite-sized, low-cost format. So for us, box #2 was about really emphasizing quality over quantity. For me, the best part about this collection is getting to bring you something special and limited-edition that also supports the livelihoods of the artists. So this collection will be about celebrating COLOR and will contain our first custom product: a mug made by Nic Newcomb, one of my favorite ceramicists. Nic took time out of his schedule to create a mug with a dash of our signature color (bright pink) that you’ll only find here in the DS Quarterly Box.

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We’ll also have bold and beautiful artwork inside, including one of my all-time favorites, a neon pink heart print from Banquet Atelier. There will also be colorful cards from Llubav Choy Duerr and much, much more.

This collection will be a bright and colorful feast for the eyes, so if you’re interested in getting a box for yourself (or as a gift for someone else) sign up RIGHT HERE. The last day to sign up for this limited-edition box is next Friday and after that no more kits will be made or sold. Thank you for your support and for supporting this collection’s artists! xo, grace

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Life & Business: Analisse Taft of ALT for Living

Life & Business: Analisse Taft of ALT for Living

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As I get older, I gain more of an appreciation for quality and see the benefit of investing a little more to get a lot more when it comes to products for the home. This philosophy for beautiful, good quality design is what drives Analisse Taft-Gersten. After spending a lot of time traveling the globe and immersing herself in the many cultures and colorful lifestyles she came across, she found beauty in the spirit and traditions behind how certain products were crafted by local makers. Upon returning from her travels with an increased appreciation for quality design and a fire in her belly to work hard, she moved from her hometown of Los Angeles, CA to New York City to challenge herself. She spent a decade gaining experience in retail, wholesale, and the luxury brand market, and in 2008, Taft-Gersten took a bold leap and launched ALT for Living, a line of fabrics, furniture, carpets and home accessories. Since then, ALT for Living has worked with some of the most prestigious firms in the design business on projects ranging from high-end residences and corporations to hotels and yachts. Today, Analisse is opening up about her business, the value of staying as small as you can for as long as you can, the importance of ignoring fear, and more. —Sabrina

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Life & Business: Martha Porter of Buried Diamond

Life & Business: Martha Porter of Buried Diamond

Life&Biz

Think Lucky Charms cereal meets candy jewelry, meets your favorite unique, handmade accessories, but better. Buried Diamond is a colorful feast for the eyes, or, as founder Martha Porter puts it best, it’s “a peek inside [her] brain.” Though Martha makes developing an aesthetic vision and carrying it through look easy, it requires a lot of planning, hard work and years of patience.

After Martha completed her textile studies at the Rhode Island School of Design, she worked as a textile designer in the New York fashion industry where she perfected her unique, painterly and colorful style, and developed novelty designs. After eight years in the business, her lifelong love of jewelry-making began to rear its pretty little head and Buried Diamond was born. Her online shop opened in 2011 with a line of handmade eyeball necklaces, but has since grown to offer signature charms, jewelry of all kinds, textiles, stickers and apparel. Since the beginning, Martha has handmade all of her products in small batches, all embodying her fun, quirky, signature illustrative style. Today, we’re thrilled to have Martha share how she turned her part-time passion project into a successful business, how listening to the market is key, the importance of sustainable pricing, and more. —Sabrina

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Taipei, Taiwan City Guide

Taipei, Taiwan City Guide

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For Stephanie Hsu, the road is home. Her penchant for finding and sharing the best spots in the world through travel is evident in her professional life, where she works as an Editor for Spottly, and in her personal life through her blog, The Thousandth Girl and her newly launched digital magazine, Alleys, focusing on cafes, creativity and design in Asia.

After living in the USA for the former part of her life, Stephanie’s parents moved back to their home country of Taiwan. At the time, Stephanie was living in New York City for school and, when she visited her parents during winter break, she fell in love with her roots. Within a week, she made the move across the globe herself and has been a traveling nomad since. She lives for travel. In her words, “I simply just don’t like to stay in one place for too long,” but no matter where she finds herself in the world, Stephanie finds comfort in the similarities that exist from place to place. Her massive guide to the best Taipei has to offer is expansive, diverse and brimming with options. Enjoy!  —Sabrina

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New: Grow House Grow Tiles + Wallpaper

New: Grow House Grow Tiles + Wallpaper

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All week I’ve been having a mild case of FOMO while I’m home upstate watching the exciting updates from New York Design Week roll in. I had family in town all last week and friends in town this week, so for the first time in 10 years, I handed over the trade show reins to two of our talented writers, Annie and Emma. They’ve been walking the aisles at the Javits Center all weekend, keeping an eye on trends and great new designers, to bring us fresh posts this week. I can’t wait to see what they have to share, but in the meantime, I couldn’t resist posting Katie Deedy’s newest designs at Grow House Grow. She sent me a little sneak peek and I immediately started figuring out just how much of her new Otomi tile I would need to redo the floor in our tiny upstairs bathroom.

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Katie’s new collections for spring 2015 include a stunning Otomi pattern cement tile and gorgeous new wallpaper designs, too. The tile is so special I haven’t been able to take my eyes off it. I keep imagining it in all different colorways (deep indigo, pale pink, gold) and how much it would inspire me to actually get down and clean the tiles in our bathroom. I can’t wait to see these in person, but in the meantime, you can check them out and order online right here.

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Katie also launched a new wallpaper line, called Codex, inspired by great historical mythology and mystery. I am still a sucker for a cute eye print and I’ll never turn down a good floral, so both of these are on my instant wish list. Katie’s papers always have such a wonderful story behind them and the patterns balance whimsy and sophistication with ease. Annie got to see these in person at ICFF, so I’m anxiously awaiting her report later this week. If you’re stopping by on the public day of ICFF this year, be sure to say hi to Katie and check out these new designs at the Grow House Grow booth, #2546. Until then, stay tuned for our trade show coverage later this week! xo, grace

An Inspired, Bohemian Home in the California Desert

An Inspired, Bohemian Home in the California Desert | Design*Sponge

An Inspired, Bohemian Home in the California Desert

Sometimes I am blown away by stories of homes impacting the people that live in them. I often sit for a few minutes, just taking in this idea – lives changed because of a house and its story. We hear about it happening more frequently when it comes to interior decorating, but when a house’s 100-year-old original design sparks a passion in a new homeowner, that’s an inspiring home. This house at the edge of the Sonoran Desert in Alamorio, CA was built with the original owner’s rug-weaving pastime in mind and has turned a creative desire into a fiber design business for Chy Parker.

Chy, stylist and fiber designer, and Marshal Parker, welder and harvesting manager, found their more than 100-year-old home by word of mouth. When touring the space, the natural light and quirky layout won them over. “One of the rooms in our home is very strangely set-up, with a huge doorway and no hardware for a door, a small closet and a custom built-in shelving unit as well as a little window nook area,” Chy says. “When I asked our landlord about it, he told me his mother was a weaver, that she used to teach at the local community college and would weave beautiful rugs, and this was her craft room. It was then that I got interested in working with fiber, sort of as an homage to the original homeowner. I bought myself a small lap loom and sat for hours figuring it out. After a while I delved into macrame and made myself a few plant hangers and used the leftover for wall hangings. Once I got the hang of it and people began to be interested in purchasing my work, I set up shop.” Chy’s work and love for textiles and fiber pieces are seen throughout the space, mixed with Marshal’s more minimal approach to design.

“Marshal and I definitely have different tastes when it comes to interior decor,” Chy says. “He leans more toward traditional and minimal, while I’m all about clean lines and color! We somehow manage to find an in-between on most things – mixing the original charm of the home with a modern bohemian style, organic and natural – a place to come home to and feel the good vibes instantly.” Their airy home has made their day-to-day more beautiful and, at least for Chy, more inspiring. —Lauren

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