DIY Painted Cat Nails

DIY Painted Cat Nails

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I’ve always been someone who shied away from trends and “must-haves” from the fashion and beauty world. Mainly because they tend to be expensive or designed for someone that looks very different than I do (ie: long skinny fingers for stacking rings, thick blond hair for beachy waves). So when I heard from one of our Brooklyn friends, nail artist Jessica Washick, about doing another DIY nail tutorial, I had a request: can we do something for those of us with short nails? All of the gorgeous nail art I see popping up in Instagram feeds around the world seems to be modeled solely on people with mega-long (to me, anyway) nails, so I asked Jessica if we could do something fun with short nails in mind. And she came back with a winner: black and white cat nails!

Jessica explained that, with short nails, “you’ll want to focus on the base of the nail. This enhances the length that you have and the nail art will look neat no matter how short your nails are!” I’m miles away from anything resembling a nail salon these days, so I’m excited to try this DIY at home over the weekend. Turk needs to know that despite being a 2-dog family now, he’s still our main man. Click through to see the full how-to and follow more of Jessica’s creative nail tutorials on Instagram right here. xo, grace

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How to Build Your Own Neighborhood Street Library

How to Build Your Own Neighborhood Street Library

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I love fun, decorative DIY projects, but when DIY can do something good and give back to the community, it really makes my day. San Francisco-based designer Jason Lees did just that when he decided to use his talents (and some great salvaged materials) to create an outdoor street library for his nine-year-old niece, Lucy.

These little free libraries, intended to encourage literacy, discovery and community, are popular across the country and every city needs help creating these neighborhood “library stations” where all children can give, get and exchange reading materials. When Jason’s niece asked him to create a library for her street, he realized that some of the leftover materials he had around his studio would be perfect for the project (and right in line with the libraries’ mission of recycling and re-using).

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So with some clever design choices, Jason turned a patio chair, wooden drawers and boxes, Redwood fencing, plywood, Ipe wood decking, colored acrylic sheets, corrugated polycarbonate, house and spray paint into a colorful home for Lucy’s neighbors to store and share books. I love the nods here to Memphis design and the fact that this beautiful little library will encourage children throughout the area to come, pick up a book and read.

If you’re interested in using your DIY skills to do something good for your neighborhood community, Jason is sharing his how-to steps after the jump. The best part is that just about any old boxes and leftover plastic or cardboard will do. All you need is your imagination and a little bit of elbow grease to create something special that will inspire kids to read. Thanks, Jason! xo, grace

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The National Stationery Show: Moglea

Moglea at the National Stationery Show.

The National Stationery Show: Moglea

It was Meg Gleason’s attention to detail that first attracted me to her company Moglea, a letterpress stationery studio based in rural Iowa. Her booth at the National Stationery Show perfectly illustrated her aesthetic, where bold colors and handmade elements are celebrated. When Meg first started her company in 2012, she searched for techniques she hadn’t seen before and quickly became excited by the idea of watercolor dip-dyed cards. Meg’s background in collage, watercolor, and fabric dying became integral to her designs and is now the forefront of her company, adding a very handmade element to a field that is often batch-processed. I was delighted to learn that the idea to use Kool-Aid as the dye came from her mother, a fiber artist, who would use Kool-Aid to dye angora wool as well as Meg’s hair ties growing up.

In this year’s collection, dip-dyed letterpressed cards are mixed with gold foil stamping, a process Meg waited to include in her designs until she could execute the process herself in her studio. The studio, set in rural Iowa, was built by Meg’s husband and partner, Chad. On the premises, they proudly do all of the design and finishing processes themselves, such as edge painting, binding, and padding. It is this focus on producing one-of-a-kind designs and having full control over every element that sets Moglea apart, making each piece something to be kept and treasured. The following six designs are some of my favorites from the NSS, showcasing dipped colors, collage elements, and bold typography. X, Emma

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VOLK Furniture by Brian Volk-Zimmerman

VOLK Furniture, on Design*Sponge

VOLK Furniture by Brian Volk-Zimmerman

Handmade in Brooklyn, VOLK Furniture has a distinctive playfulness that showcases hard materials yielding to various attempts at aesthetic softening. Brian Volk-Zimmerman, the company’s founder and designer, has a thing for unexpected details such as a nice fabric-lined drawer, an intentional shadow reflecting the physical shape of a mirror, or a cutout from one furniture piece found performing decorative duty in another. Natural marble, cork, and bleached ash lend an elegant sensibility to the lively collection shown at ICFF, which can also be ordered up in a variety of fine materials. —Annie

Photography via VOLK Furniture

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DIY Abstract Picture Frames

DIY Abstract Picture Frames

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Every now and then, we come across a project in a home tour that inspires not only our team, but readers, to request a DIY version we can all try at home. After last week’s Hudson Valley home makeover ran, we got so many emails asking about how to create similar “deconstructed” abstract picture frames. So we invited Jessica Goehring to create a project inspired by the gold frames in her home tour and I love the final result. Jess will walk you through the how-to after the jump! xo, grace

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A San Francisco Home Built for Play

Design*Sponge Home Tour

A San Francisco Home Built for Play

What would happen if the kids’ playroom turned into the entire home? It would look a lot like the San Francisco home Julia Busenitz shares with her husband Dennis, two sons Rune and Sepp, and dog Gucci. They were already living in the neighborhood — just a little over a block away — when the family fell in love with this house. They saw the potential even though it was “tiny, dark and stinky,” as Julia says. They knew they could make it their own with a lot of work and love. Fast-forward seven years and the house is transformed into a light-filled, lived-in, kid-friendly space.

It wasn’t easy to transform the home. There have been challenges along the way, lots of projects built just to be torn down again, but that’s just part of the process, Julia says. Their biggest objective, though, was to make sure the space was not precious at all. They wanted their home to be fun and inspiring: a place where their kids would bring their friends over to play, while still being comfortable enough to host big dinners.

Details such as the net lofted above the living room to the “porthole” above the boys’ bunk beds are proof of the family’s dedication to make every detail of the house playful and experiential. Julia’s husband Dennis built much of the furniture, making everything feel special and truly one-of-a-kind. His custom woodwork pieces are complemented by fabulous Craigslist scores (the oven, and a brand new bathroom sink and toilet). Outside, they are surrounded by a riot of lush greenery, their chicken coop, and Julia’s studio. Aside from being the coolest parents in the neighborhood, Julia runs a textile design business, Luca Jackson, and Dennis is a professional skateboarder. Thanks to both Julia and Dennis for demonstrating that a space for kids and a space for adults don’t have to be two separate things. —Shannon

 

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DIY Tissue Paper Art

DIY Tissue Paper Art

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One thing my home is sorely lacking is art. I’ve been so consumed with furniture, soft furnishings and far too many hanging planters, that I’ve neglected to extend the decoration to the walls. The pieces I do have are slowly collected and sparsely dotted around my home, and although each of these pieces holds some significance to me, I do feel that a few “filler” frames could bring them all together a little more. Along with looking for prints from local artists, I want to DIY a few pieces to add to the mix, and I felt like this tissue paper art was the perfect place to start. The bright colors, combined with a minimal design, creates an eye-catching piece that can fit in any sized wall space that you need to fill. —Fran

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Umbra Shift: Functional, Familiar, and Forward-Thinking

Umbra Shift, on Design*Sponge

Umbra Shift: Functional, Familiar, and Forward-Thinking

Many an organized life has been enhanced by the use of Umbra items over the past 30 years, and the Toronto-based product design company continues to innovate with a new line of designer items that incorporate contemporary aesthetics on top of their clever functionalities. Umbra Shift first launched at ICFF last year and had a strong second showing recently, giving talented young designers the ability to create the everyday objects that they themselves would be proud to display at home. Lots of clever ideas have emerged, like the desk lamp anchored with a pencil cup to free up valuable real estate on the average working desk surface, a folding chair with a hanger head that suggests its ideal storage spot, and a shelf that can support displayed items either horizontally or vertically. Bonus points for the rad packaging, which unites the dissimilar devices under one common visual language. —Annie

Photography via Umbra Shift

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National Stationery Show: Ferme À Papier

Ferme A Papier at the National Stationary Show.

National Stationery Show: Ferme À Papier

There are many elements of my personal style that can be traced in a straight line back to my time spent in Paris. From stripes, to luxe linens, to crown molding, these design details have sunk themselves deep into my life and ethos. My francophile affinity was well matched when I met Cat Seto of Ferme À Papier at the National Stationery Show this year, a San Francisco based design studio. It was her time in Paris two years ago that gave impetus to her company, whose literal translation is Farm to Paper. Days spent watching “Parisian hipsters” and visiting biodynamic farms in the countryside carry through in all of her work today. Upon walking around her dark navy booth, I was taken with the mix of styles she uses — abstract landscapes blended with gold foil typography, gestural illustrations of sweet couples in love, and hand drawn marble patterns that she said took forever to make.

For this year’s collection, Cat drew inspiration from the golden ratio, hoping to create “harmony and balance” in her designs. Although very modern in aesthetic, this ratio can be seen in the work of countless artists from Leonardo Da Vinci to Salvador Dali. I found these golden elements to be beautiful and compelling, mixing mathematical lines with the fluid shapes of nature.

In the end, I found myself lingering at the Ferme À Papier booth for far too long, sharing stories about hot french baguettes and romantic side streets. The following 10 images capture the feeling I had after leaving Cat’s booth, a dreamy wanderlust for a time stood still in a classic French parlor, stripes and all. X, Emma

Photography by Emma Tuccillo

 

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An Artistic Home & Studio in an 1850s New England Church

An Artistic Home & Studio in an 1850s New England Church | Design*Sponge

An Artistic Home & Studio in an 1850s New England Church

Searching for the perfect home can take some creativity in where to look — especially if you aren’t looking for a traditional house. When the Little family was looking for studio and living space in the midcoast Maine area, commercial listings won out over residential real estate and they found this 1852 church to call home.

Erin, a wedding and editorial photographer, Mark, a fine artist, and their daughter, 8-year-old Elisabeth, moved into this church building three years ago. Before they owned it, it had been transformed into several businesses, but never a home. Erin had to work to get it zoned for residential use and luckily found a small local bank that could help. “Both being artists, Mark and I knew we needed a place to house a home and studio in one. That was a tall order,” says Erin. “We also wanted to stray from the normal idea of a home and instead looked at old railroad stations and churches. It is perfect and I can’t imagine living anywhere else. It didn’t pop up on any of the searches because it wasn’t listed residentially. It was my husband who suggested we go look at it because he had been driving by it for years. All it took was 10 steps inside before I turned to my realtor and said, ‘I’ll take it.’ The light was enough to make me swoon!”

Erin, Mark and Elisabeth’s art can be seen in almost every room of this charming space. Their passion and talent for creating can be seen in their photographs and paintings and also in the way they have shaped and transformed their home. “Our only decorating goals were to have our space reflect us as a family. We put a lot of thought into everything that comes into our house and it has to be meaningful. I tend to be more of a minimalist, while Mark loves all things funky, loud, and colorful. So we have blended the two and I think it’s really worked.” While nothing about this building was residential before, it is a house perfect for the Littles with all the elements of an artistic, beautiful home. —Lauren

Photography by Erin Little

 

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Life & Business: Bethan and Joe of Decorator’s Notebook

Life & Business: Bethan and Joe of Decorator’s Notebook

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Bethan and Joe are a brother and sister team from England on a mission is to prove that design, quality and ethics can go hand in hand. Together, they run Decorator’s Notebook, an online shop offering home accessories sourced from fair-trade groups, artisan co-operatives and social enterprises from around the world. Decorator’s Notebook is a win-win: It gives their customers access to unique global accessories and provides income to talented artisans in developing countries.

Before their launch, Bethan worked as a design journalist for various magazines in the UK and started a blog as a way to collect her interior design inspiration and share independent makers. Joe was working in e-commerce, and as the blog grew, they decided to pursue it further and join forces. Though they’ve weathered some bumps along the way, including the hurdle of how to work together successfully as siblings, they’ve learned a ton about how to create a successful start-up. Today, Bethan is opening up about their business and sharing some important and poignant nuggets of wisdom gathered along the way. –Sabrina

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Life & Business: Jane Sachs of HS2 Architecture

Life & Business: Jane Sachs of HS2 Architecture

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Building a business is hard, and sustaining one for 5, 10, or even 20 years is no simple feat. But Toronto-native and architect, Jane Sachs, has done just that. In fact, she just celebrated 20 years of business success last year — but Jane’s strong creative vision and mastery of materials didn’t come without a lot of hard work and a humble beginning. Jane sharpened her teeth at University in the 90s, where she received a degree as a Bachelor of Fine Arts before attending architecture school in her 30s. After graduating, she opened a small pottery studio in New York City producing custom dinnerware, and it was there that she met her partner, Thomas Hut. Together, they launched HS2 Architecture in 1994.

Having gone from a duo to a collaborative team of nearly a dozen, they continue to create unique buildings and interiors with a deep appreciation of visual arts and responsive design, and have created some of the most recognizable buildings in New York City — including Ralph Lauren’s flagship stores, Gramercy Park Hotel and Palazzo Chupi. They take their clients from pie-in-the-sky design and high-level thinking to the actual construction of the projects. Regardless of budget or scale, they guarantee a high level of creativity, commitment to quality and attention to detail, and it’s this level of care that continues to elevate them to new levels of success.

Today, Jane is taking us through her impressive journey from producing dinnerware to where HS2 is today, exploring the importance of listening carefully, enjoying your work, considering diverse points of view, and more! Sabrina

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Chiang Mai, Thailand City Guide

Chiang Mai, Thailand City Guide

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For the past four years, Chiang Mai, Thailand has been home to Alana Morgan. It was also the spot she called home after moving out for the first time, and where she accomplished many other milestones from learning to ride a motorcycle to teaching English to backpacking for two months with a stranger. She’s explored Southeast Asia extensively over this time, but no matter where her travels take her (which she documents on her travel blog, Paper Planes), she lands back in Chiang Mai where she feels most at home — and she doesn’t plan on leaving anytime soon! As an expat, Alana has had a diverse experience from living with locals to staying in hotels to sleeping in tents, so her guide features a great mix of spots and suggestions that range from more general recommendations so you can customize your trip, to specific places you must check out. –Sabrina

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Anna Karlin Furniture + Fine Objects

Anna Karlin Furniture + Fine Objects, on Design*Sponge

Anna Karlin Furniture + Fine Objects

Anna Karlin dreamed up one of the most engaging booths at ICFF this year, featuring multiple layers of intrigue. The complete work showcased her expertise in digital and print media art direction (not to mention interior and set design), built around a line of irreverent original furniture and lighting products that were a highlight of the show. Our favorites included the colorful experiments in pattern projected upon rugs and stools, the various plumb and bulb pendants that appear to balance just so but actually stem from sturdy metals, and the porcelain vases squashed to resemble spent cigarette butts. Karlin relishes the process of working across all mediums and allowing inspiration from one discovery to inform ideas about another. She believes that each of the design disciplines are interrelated, and they should all be explored simultaneously or else risk leaving some essential piece of information undiscovered. That, and literally playing chess with her furniture arrangements. —Annie

Photography via Anna Karlin Furniture + Fine Objects

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