Before & After: Casa Joshua Tree

Before & After: Casa Joshua Tree, on Design*Sponge

Before & After: Casa Joshua Tree

One year ago this month, Lindsay Hollinger closed on her own three-bedroom Casa Joshua Tree after years of renting in Los Angeles. Unable to contain her excitement, she started demolition the very next day, ripping up the worn flooring and polishing the concrete slab beneath. Go-getter Lindsay isn’t a professional contractor; instead she’s a multi-talented art director, designer, painter, and illustrator with the imagination required to transform her 1,236-square-foot 1970s stucco box into “a zen-meets-desert feel, by way of Scandinavia.” She set out to revamp the interiors with the same peaceful and sacred feeling she finds in the surrounding desert.

Unfortunately, building that ambiance indoors took some time, as all the houses in Lindsay’s price range required major work. “I wanted to stay within my means, but have a beautiful home,” she shares. “I had to dig deep and assess what renovations I was physically (and mentally) capable of, and what I could afford.” Despite the need for updates, her current home had simple lines, had been well maintained, and called for mostly aesthetic changes. “I could live and work in the house while I renovated over time,” Lindsay explains. “It had beautiful light, a view of the mountains, a large kitchen, big backyard, and plenty of space for entertaining visitors.” For the biggest projects, Lindsay pulled in generous friends and even hired contractors. The master bath had the most dramatic work done — they removed the 1970s gold sparkle counters, replaced a leaking shower, and installed a new sink and butcherblock countertop. The kitchen’s good bones were preserved with updated finishes, and bedrooms were completed with the help of Grace’s own DIY bed frame tutorial.

Lindsay lives and works in her Casa, and she also hosts visiting artists and workshops in the space. Flexible furnishings allow for changes in the layout as needed. “I am most thankful that I get to experience the magic of the high desert and this wonderful community every day,” Lindsay says. “Sharing it with others is also an experience in gratitude — I can’t wait to teach workshops in the fall in my space.” Her biggest success is that she made her own inspiring home in a simple way, on her terms, within her budget. “If you’ve got a stucco box or a tract home or something that is not considered ‘stylish’ — don’t worry, because you can still make it beautiful.” —Annie

Photography by Lindsay Hollinger

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In North Carolina, Making a Mid-Century Home From Scratch

In North Carolina, Making a Mid-Century Home From Scratch, Design*Sponge

In North Carolina, Making a Mid-Century Home From Scratch

To get their Asheville, NC showroom Atomic Furnishing and Design up and running, Megan and Todd Walsh made some major sacrifices. They put not only their heart and soul into the business, but had to use nearly their entire personal collection of mid-century furniture as inventory. Everything went up for sale at the shop. And by everything, I mean everything. “We were so focused on our shop succeeding that we literally had a bed and a few formica-top dressers that were in rough shape,” the couple tells us. For a while they lived this way, but as the showroom’s name and reputation grew, the pair grew frustrated with their living situation. They wanted to settle in somewhere new, and make a space theirs. Then one day a fabulous new home dropped right into their laps.

While at a pal’s garage sale, Megan realized the friend was thinking of moving. Intrigued, she asked for a tour of the home and immediately fell in love. Its abundance of natural light and mid-century design were perfect for her and Todd. “If only we could live in this house,” Megan thought. What a dream it’d be to finally bring home their personal pieces from the shop and craft a space for themselves. Sure enough, a bit later, the homeowners did in fact move. They remembered Megan’s giddiness for their home, too, and she and Todd got the first crack at renting the beauty.

Upon moving in, Megan and Todd stripped the space to give themselves a blank slate to work with, and they’ve since filled each room with all-things 1950s. Colorful furniture and examples of their shop’s reupholstery work hang out here and there, and an enviable collection of Persian rugs warms many of the home’s square feet. While most of the pieces were picked up at flea markets and thrift shops, the occasional item came out of the garbage! You’d never know, though, thanks to these homeowners’ keen eyes. Their knack for mixing hues, ability to up-cycle, and boldness have made this brilliant space a memorable one. Click through to take a look. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Megan Walsh

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Fall Color Report No. 2

Fall Color Report No. 2

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I heard from many of you who were interested in more color coverage, so I thought it would be fun to take a look at three more colors from Pantone’s fall color report. We’ll be examining how and why these colors work together. Today we’re focusing on Spicy Mustard, Aurora Red and the wild card of the group, Bodacious, an upbeat purple shade.

It’s easy to understand why Spicy Mustard and Aurora Red make sense for autumn with their nod to the harvest and the rich burnt oranges of fall leaves. It’s less obvious where Bodacious fits in. With a little detective work, I think I’ve uncovered a distinct possibility on why this shade of purple is in the fall collection.

Click through to hear me out on my Bodacious hunch! I’ve also included a collage look at each color for inspiration, along with some fun, vintage images of colorful appliances and pretty awesome fashion that are apropos. —Caitlin

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How To Get Started

How To Get Started

How To Get Started

Whether you’re contemplating a self-initiated project or embarking on new work for a client, sometimes the hardest part comes right away. Even when it’s the work you love, when it’s a craft you’ve built a life around, just getting started can feel impossible. Sure, we’re professionals. We’ve made it through the phone calls, we have some sort of end goal outlined, we have a deadline set, but then the actual doing part is where things can slow down. Personally, I have been sitting on this paragraph for like, 20 minutes, then took a break to read this post instead.

There is a creative sweet spot that kicks in when you’re excited about a project, and sometimes you just can’t turn it on at will. We’re talking about intangibles here. Getting started can take a little bit of tricking your brain by indulging its procrastination, letting it believe it’s won, all while secretly laying the groundwork to dive in and succeed. Continued below, some steps you can read while procrastinating (or gently pass along to someone who needs a small push). –Adam J. Kurtz

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A Vancouver Condo with Mindful Design

Condo Tour of Joanne Ma on Design*Sponge

A Vancouver Condo with Mindful Design

When Joanne and Tony Ma were expecting their second child, it came down to either moving out of the city and into the land of suburbia, or sacrificing space for the lifestyle they loved. In the end, they chose to live minimally in a 1,100-square-foot apartment, right in the heart of Olympic Village in Vancouver, British Columbia.

If anyone was up for the challenges that come with living with kids in a small space, it was Joanne. Prior to starting Modern Fort, a platform for mothers to unite and for individuals to give back to the community, Joanne was a behavior consultant helping families living with autism. A lot of the decor and layout of her own family’s space has been organized strategically to increase certain areas of development in their children. “With my background in behavioral sciences and education, I’ve come to realize there are many little things we can do to help improve a child’s planning, organizing and social-communicative skills,” Joanne explains.

The couple’s decorating goals for raising their kids, Alexa and Ari, in a condo was to create a space where they can function, live and grow. This meant a dedicated play area and a relaxing space for the kids. “Keeping with the monochromatic theme, we kept all our shelves white with large black storage boxes to help the kids easily identify where their toys are located. With a small living space, our goal was to keep things visually simple and minimal.”

With kids, clutter can come easily, so making sure things are organized was important. A key thing they did was to categorize the toy bins for the kids: “One for my daughter and all the things she can do independently, one for my son and all the things he can do independently, and one where they require our participation,” Joanne shares. Everything else is placed in smaller bins, which helps separate the play activities and increases the children’s ability to plan and organize. “For example, all my daughter’s Playmobil fairies are in one bin, and the large Megablok legos are in another. This is so that she can easily organize her play in a more functional way,” explains Joanne.

They also have a lot of open shelves. The reason is twofold. Firstly, it increases independence by allowing kids to easily access what they want to play with without having to seek assistance all the time. Secondly, it allows parents to place highly desirable items to increase communication. “We do this a lot with our younger child who just turned one,” Joanne says. “Strategically placing items he highly desires where he can’t reach, but can visibly see, is one way to increase the opportunity for him to communicate with us his needs.”

The Ma family’s space is a lesson in living a lifestyle and how great, mindful design can really change lives. Enjoy! —Karla

Photography by Janis Nicolay

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A 1920s-Era San Diego Home Shows That Downsizing Can Be Delightful

Home Tour with Alyasha Owerka-Moore from Design*Sponge

A 1920s-Era San Diego Home Shows That Downsizing Can Be Delightful

Sometimes life comes at you fast, and when it comes in the form of your landlord deciding that selling the building quickly is what’s best, one has to move just as swiftly. Alyasha Owerka-Moore found himself in this exact predicament when his beloved 2,000-square-foot loft in downtown San Diego, CA was no longer an option. Finding a new home was the next step. “I had to find a place fast,” Alyasha recalls, “A good friend of mine knew that I was looking and told me that some mutual friends had outgrown their house and wanted a trustworthy tenant. I contacted them, saw the house and fell in love.”

Some of the things Alyasha really appreciates about his new home are its private outdoor space, a garage for him to tinker in, tons of cross-ventilation, and beautiful light. There is also a granny flat in the back that he plans on using as an office once he’s more settled. “Having lived in loft spaces for the last 20 years, it’s nice to be able to separate work from my living space. I haven’t had a legit bedroom in 20 years, so I suppose I’m just exploring and enjoying that concept.”

Stepping into the 900-square-foot, Craftsman-style 1920s era home almost teleports you to a different time. Alyasha’s use of vintage and novelty pieces goes perfectly with the Normal Heights San Diego home’s overall aesthetic in a natural and genuine way that’s fitting to his personal style. The clothing designer and creative director — who is also a brand historian and archivist for canvas sneaker company PF Flyers (not familiar? The 1993 cult classic The Sandlot should ring a bell) — manages to weave his love of the past into the present in all areas of his life. As a child growing up in Brooklyn in the 1980s, Alyasha was heavily influenced by the burgeoning hip hop, punk rock and skateboard scene. Spending his time working as an assistant to his mother Carolyn J. Owerka in her ancient textile and conservation business, he learned about restoring textiles for the likes of The Metropolitan Museum, Smithsonian Institute and The Museum of Natural History, as well as for noted collectors like I. M. Pei, Matthew Polk of Polk Audio and David Bowie. With this experience and exposure at such an early age, it’s no wonder that his love of history and vintage bubbles over into the interior of his home. —Gigi 

Photography by Alyasha Owerka-Moore and Julie Cruz

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A Minimalist Guest Room Transitions to Fall

My guest room with five easy pieces from Crate and Barrel: Metal Shelf, Brenner Beet Red Velvet Pillow, Tall Bud Vase, Teeny Bud Vase, and Sheepskin Throw in Taupe.

A Minimalist Guest Room Transitions to Fall

Thank you Crate and Barrel for sponsoring this post and helping me create a beautiful, comfortable guest room that welcomes fall and my guests! I was able to choose the perfect pieces from Crate and Barrel to add that special, seasonal touch. All content and opinions expressed here are my own, and I thank you for supporting our partners who help us bring you original stories and transformations like this!

If I had to pick one thing I’ve learned while working at Design*Sponge with Grace over the years, it would be that investing in quality pieces for your home is THE way to go. Being a single mom, I was always running to stores that carry everything on the planet, and invariably, I’d end up picking out things for the house in haste. I was always sad and disappointed when a leg fell off or a fabric began pilling after one wash. Even still, it was hard to break the “disposable stuff” syndrome.

Then I started to notice that other people’s interiors remained the same overall, but were thoughtfully transformed each season with a garden flower here or a new pillow there. They simply switched things up and while their major pieces didn’t change, the overall feel did. Then it hit me! They had invested in well-made, quality things, both large and small, and then simply introduced new small pieces or special found objects here and there with the changing of the seasons.

I decided I was completely on board and turned to Crate & Barrel for some smallish key pieces with big impact to help usher in fall in my mish-mash of a guest room. Guess what? I love it! I feel like a grownup and my guests will feel well cared for and comfortable this autumn.

I am in love with a few pieces that help make not only the transition from summer to fall a breeze, but also help me transition from a disposable mindset to a more thoughtful, forever pieces frame of mind.

Take a peek after the jump and let me know what colors you’re loving for fall in the comments, if you would be so kind. After my Fall Color Report post last week, I’ve been wondering what colors real people (not just Pantone) are embracing for the upcoming season. Be sure to check out the slide show for some inspiration! –Caitlin

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In Florida, The Rustic Bungalow of Two Florists

In Florida, Two Florists' Rustic Bungalow, Design*Sponge

In Florida, The Rustic Bungalow of Two Florists

Florists Melissa and Sean Stevenson are a bold pair unafraid of zigging when others zag. While others were working for “the man,” they took a risk and opened their own studio, Kaleidoscope Flowers & Botanicals. And while families were snatching up all of their neighborhood’s new-construction homes, they were settling into one of its retro, beachy bungalows.

Drive by on any given day, and you’ll find the family’s pet tortoise, Adele, waddling across the front yard. Maybe she’s headed to her nook under the house, or maybe she’s going to visit her friends: a pair of plastic flamingos. The set’s pink hue pops off of the bungalow’s mint paint job, the two colors coming together in a perfectly 1950s sort of way. Tiptoe over Adele, then up the geometric front steps, and you’ll find yourself in a curated, vintage-inspired home that’s cozy and unique.

This look is achieved with an eclectic mix of secondhand finds, rustic styling and one-of-a-kind artwork — all three of which Melissa and Sean have used to give each room in their home a distinct look. In their bedroom, for example, a wrought iron bed frame anchors the space and sets the tone for its Scandinavian design. On the other hand, the at-home studio, headquarters of Kaleidoscope, leans more heavily into the rustic theme with exposed wood and thrift shop vases. As you click through and take a peek at the entire home, it’s not hard to see why this bungalow is one of my favorite spaces we’ve seen this summer. It has an ease about it that makes me want to move right in. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Austin Trenholm

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Popham Tiles + Best of the Web

Popham Tiles + Best of the Web

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This week has been a total whirlwind and I’m trying to focus on squeezing in a few more moments of summer relaxation whenever I can. When I saw these new tiles from Popham, I immediately felt like they had the summer vibe I was going for and imagined myself taking a little midday nap in a colorful hammock like this. All of Popham’s new designs have a warm, summery feel, and if your space is in need of a little jolt of color or just a fun pattern-filled update, check out their latest designs. That peachy wave style below is so beautiful — and it reminds me of little Matisse-style slices of watermelon. Until Monday, have a great weekend! xo, grace

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Goji, Mango & Turmeric Smoothie

Goji, Mango & Turmeric Smoothie

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I’ve mentioned before on this column that monothematic cookbooks are some of my favorites. We’ve featured recipes from quite a few here, from books on yogurt, avocados, eggs, and food on a stick. When I saw the most recent Green Kitchen Stories book, GREEN KITCHEN Smoothies: Healthy and Colourful Smoothies for Every Day, I was magnetically drawn to its recipes (not just smoothies!) and didn’t know how to choose which to try first — by color or ingredient, or both? All of them look delicious! In the end, I chose the Goji, Mango, and Turmeric Smoothie based on color, unique flavor profile, and nutritional properties. I can sincerely say that I have started a Vitamix savings fund to make the best use of this “cook”book! —Kristina

Why David and Luise love this recipe: This is one of our favorite recipes in the entire book and it has the most unreal color! The smoothie tastes very unique with a wide variety of fruity tones mixed with a spicy punch from ginger and that unexpected twist from goji berries. We also add turmeric to it for a nice roundness in flavor, more intense color and some anti-inflammatory properties. Add chia seeds for a more filling drink or leave them out if you prefer it a little lighter.

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Photography by David Frenkiel

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A Treasure Hunter’s Home Full of Simple Comforts

Nick's Home Tour on Design*Sponge

A Treasure Hunter’s Home Full of Simple Comforts

Three years ago, Nick Huff and his boyfriend opened a mid-century modern furniture store called Hutch in the heart of Omaha, NE. Their collection of local, new and old furniture and décor is thoughtfully curated by working with makers in the community and frequent vintage-hunting. Nick is a self-proclaimed, “chronic thrift store junkie” and enjoys the thrill of discovery. “We are the [fanatics] first in line at all the area estate sales.” His own home is full of objects that are handmade, vintage or family heirlooms. Nick loves identifying human connections and significance with the artifacts he finds for his store and with what he chooses to place in his home. “It is important for me to find things that tell a story. These items comfort me and make my home feel complete.” His decorative practice is to use objects with an original, historic reference and an adventurous approach to mixing various styles with texture and bursts of color. After owning his home for the past year, Nick welcomes pieces that offer comfort and a unique narrative that reflects his appreciation for storytelling through objects.

Nick spent six months to find and furnish his 1920s brick duplex in midtown, Omaha. The area is full of neighborhood charm, including a local farmer’s market and a few restaurants close by. Nick values the diversity and culture of the community he is a part of. “I often find myself chatting with my neighbors as I walk to and from work every day. There is something comforting in that.”

After the passing of his grandma, Nick visited Arizona to take care of the family home and was gifted an original Navajo bowl and tapestry from her best friend, Midge. “Over the years, she would often make and give my Grandma beautiful objects including tapestries, large pots and woven bowls. I always felt a special connection to what my Grandma received.” Nick was overwhelmed with emotion when Midge handed him the gifted items. “In that moment, my world stopped and I was very thankful.” With those gifts leaving a lasting impact on him, Nick wants each guest to feel this same sense of comfort and discovery when they are in his space. “This life is too short. We all need to enjoy the ride and lift each other’s spirits.” Bethany Joy Foss

Photography by Joshua Foo

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Fall Color Report

Fall Color Report

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I tackle market editing from an analyst’s point-of-view. The turning point of my career was when I was working as the Design Room Manager at a well-known fashion brand. I readied the fabric and mood boards, I chose the wood for our hangers, and best of all: I named our colors each season. Dream job? You bet. But the day I walked the floors of boutiques and department stores with our Business Director, I realized the right side of my brain was utterly and completely united with the left side of my brain. I was dizzy with bliss.

When color authority Pantone releases their color forecasts and collections, I love trying to pinpoint the genesis of the chicken-or-the-egg theory as fashion color forecasts appear in the housewares market. Fall 2016’s color collection is no exception, so let’s take a look at what the market is serving up for autumn.

Click through to learn more about the reasoning behind Pantone’s chosen colors for autumn and see where they’re popping up in the home goods market. If you don’t work in the industry, I think you’ll be surprised! –Caitlin

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Living and Working Downtown With Postmodern Treasures

Living and Working Downtown With Postmodern Treasures, on Design*Sponge

Living and Working Downtown With Postmodern Treasures

The final installment in a series of three home tours covering Dana Arbib‘s A Peace Treaty universe (see Living It Up on the Lower East Side and An Airy Modern Greenhouse in Brooklyn, as well as Dana’s own stunning place), the apartment and office of Jamee Gidwitz — the president and founder of Rêve Public Relations — is located within Manhattan’s historic Financial District. While her company specializes in representing accessory brands, her fiancé John Betts is the CEO of nearby Noble Markets. Jamee herself has lived in the building for almost nine years, while she and John have occupied their 1,475-square-foot unit for nearly two. The now-residential building is the former 1928 JP Morgan Bank headquarters, converted to apartments a decade ago with interiors by Philippe Starck. Jamee’s love for mid-century modern furniture and postmodern artwork has dictated the feel of the apartment, and high ceilings, white walls, and blonde wood floors provide a perfect backdrop. “We wanted a modern yet warm space that felt tonal but not overly thematic,” Jamee explains. “I like the organic elements, and tried to have base objects be more or less neutral (woods, glass, concrete, taupes) and use color and pattern strategically to accessorize and emphasize.”

“Jamee is one of the few people I can randomly call to discuss Mid-Century German Lava Ceramics, and she will know exactly what I’m talking about,” Dana Arbib shares. “When I first saw Jamee’s home, it was clear that we share an obsession in curating rare niche design objects. She is a mid-century furniture collector: her home is a curated revival of 60s modernism and like me, she doesn’t take design too seriously, she likes to have fun with it. Though we no longer work together, our shared aesthetic is forever!”

With acclaimed designers and artists from Eero Saarinen to Frank Gehry to Chuck Close represented in her personal collection, Jamee also enjoys displaying the work of friends who have made pieces that integrate seamlessly into her decor. “The vibe really sets Rêve apart from other PR firms,” Jamee imagines. “Stylists and editors can come over, have a coffee and a chat, do a little business, have a little fun… and our clients hugely benefit from having their collections walking distance from Time Inc., Condé Nast, and Bauer Publishing. I can’t tell you how many 7 am or 10 pm pickups we’ve been able to accommodate thanks to our unique set-up and way of working.” —Annie

Photography by Genevieve Garruppo

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DIY Upcycled Vintage Upholstered Speakers

DIY Upcycled Vintage Upholstered Speakers

DIY Vintage Upcycled Upholstered Speakers, on Design*Sponge

Tessa Dee Miller enjoys breathing new life into things seemingly past their prime. As the owner of The Nest, a vintage decor and apparel shop in Reno, NV, Tessa has ample opportunity to upcycle found treasures. Her refurbished speakers had some nice features to begin with — like the decorative grates in front — but she could see them fitting into a more contemporary home with just a bit of a cosmetic makeover and several options to configure.Annie

As a music lover, every room in my house must be equipped with a record player, amp, and speakers for spontaneous morning dance parties to get the blood flowing. Record players have a nostalgic aesthetic on their own, and amps hide away somewhat discreetly under the record player, but speakers can be such an eyesore. Feeling like speakers constantly commanded too much of the wrong kind of attention in my living room, I decided that they needed some sprucing up. In true DIY fashion, I pulled out a can of spray paint and some fabric from the stockpiled stacks in my craft room and went to town. After a super simple makeover, my speakers feel more like works of art, and I get compliments on them all the time!

One of the most underrated thrift store gems can be found in the section that is the iffiest to venture into: electronics. While I frequently skip past the plastic graveyard of old cameras and boomboxes that most likely don’t work anymore, I have oddly enough always had great luck with speakers. I’ve never picked one up that hasn’t functioned well, although aesthetic-wise, most of them could use a little love to be able to fit seamlessly into my décor. This DIY may not be for the snootypants audiophile, but if you are okay with less than top-of-the-line sound quality speakers that aren’t an eyesore, listen up!Tessa Dee Miller

Photography by Jocelyn Noel

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Dorm Life: The Number One Essential + DIY Décor

You can actually make the floral bedding shown in this image. Click here for the full instructions. Another trick to customize your dorm space is to use double-stick tape to hang a roll or a few sheets of your favorite wrapping paper and voila, wallpaper!

Dorm Life: The Number One Essential + DIY Décor

By this time, most college students are back on campus and struggling to come to terms with life in a small room that feels nothing like home. I’m actually going through this right now, minus the small room. I just bought my first house and I am in the process of making it my “home.” Adding some simple décor and making sure you have the basic essentials at hand can make you not only more comfortable, but perhaps a bit inspired, too.

Let’s face it, dorms can be drab, unwelcoming places with ghastly lighting, noise pollution and bathrooms that are in desperate need of a major makeover. While you can’t redecorate the entire building, you do have some control over your personal space. When it comes to dorm life and even my new house, there is one element that can drastically change your space immediately. Once you remedy this one glaring issue, you’ll quickly feel more at home and ready to tackle a few DIY projects that will further transform your dorm into your new home. Can you guess what it is? 

Click through to see our favorite essential and visit the slideshow for six DIYs to brighten your space and your mood! And college graduates, take note. This tip can work for your space, too! –Caitlin

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