William Suran + Best of the Web

William Suran + Best of the Web

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I don’t know if it’s the cold weather or the endless sheets of ice on our driveway, but I’m craving color and freshness right now. I’m so ready for bright spring flowers and the sort of lushness that only comes at the beginning of spring, when everything is that yellow-green color of new growth. Sadly, everything outside will still be iced over for a few more months, but in the meantime I’ve been filling my screen with photos and paintings of beautiful flowers.

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These watercolors I found on Instagram are my absolute favorite right now and it turns out they’re by an artist, William Suran, just around the corner from us in Brooklyn. Whether you’re lucky enough to be surrounded by real versions of these or just need some color and beauty on your screen today, I hope you’ll enjoy William’s stunning watercolors as much as I did. You can follow William and see more of his work on Instagram, his website and at this gallery online. xo, grace

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In the Kitchen With: Nik Sharma’s Sevaiyan

In the Kitchen With: Nik Sharma’s Sevaiyan

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I came across Nik Sharma, the author and photographer behind the blog A Brown Table, on Instagram a few months ago. I do not post a lot on Instagram, but I love to scroll through the images in my feed in hopes of spotting any images of Hulk, Australia, and colorful (and tasty-looking) food. Nik’s photo that day stood out for many reasons. After the initial introduction, I hopped over to his blog and I was doubly pleased to find that his recipes are equally as enticing as the photos, many of which have strong Indian influences and are inspired by Nik’s Indian heritage and time spent growing up in India and the United States. I jumped at the opportunity to have him on the In the Kitchen With column. Nik is sharing with us a sweet dish from his childhood called sevaiyan, or Indian vermicelli kheer. I wish they offered this at my local cafe for breakfast!  -Kristina

About Nik: Nik is a freelance photographer, supper club cook, recipe developer and writer in the San Francisco Bay Area where he shares his love for all things delicious on his blog A Brown Table. His work has appeared in Better Homes and Gardens, Food52, The Kitchn, Life and Thyme, and many more. When not in the kitchen or behind the camera, Nik can be found indulging in his desire to collect as many delightful cookbooks as possible, sifting through thrift stores for vintage finds and planning adventurous trips. Nik can be found on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

See how to make Nik’s Sevaiyan after the jump!

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Julia Rothman’s Nature Anatomy + Giveaway!

Julia Rothman’s Nature Anatomy + Giveaway!

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One of my absolute favorite pasttimes as a child was collecting insects, wildflowers and greenery in those little “junior explorer” kits you could buy at toy stores. I loved being able to look at nature up close and learn more about everything, from ladybugs to buttercups. Now that I’m getting close to my mid-30s, I still feel the exact same way. Living in upstate New York feels like one giant explorer kit, in that every morning I’m outside following tracks, taking pictures and trying to identify animals or plants everywhere I can. That same spirit of excitement and wonder fills the pages of Julia Rothman‘s new book, Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of the Natural World.

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The follow-up to her illustrated guide to life on a farm, Nature Anatomy approaches everything from clouds and flowers to feathers and mushrooms with the same curiosity and wonder that we all had as children. I’m not someone who needs a nudge to want to learn more about the structure of a leaf and what the phases of a moon look like, but if you’re someone who’s ever walked outside and looked up (or down) and wondered how the natural world around you works, this book is a fun and beautiful guide to learning more. There are over 700 illustrations in Nature Anatomy and each one comes with interesting facts, a story or a lesson that helps you understand more about the natural world. I can’t wait to read through this (a few times, probably) and for two readers today, you won’t have to wait long, because Julia and Storey Publishing are giving away two copies of her book! All you need to do to enter the contest is leave a comment in the section below answering the following question: What was your favorite nature-related exploration or discovery when you were younger? Share your story below and two lucky readers will have a free copy sent to their door. Click “read more” below to see pictures from the book! xo, grace

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Sights & Sounds For Your Winter Morning

Sights & Sounds For Your Winter Morning

Photo by April Valencia.

Photo by April Valencia. PortfolioVSCo | Instagram | Tumblr

I’ve met a few people who classify themselves as “winter people” and I have never quite understood them. Like so-called “morning people,” these rare creatures seem to revel in a time that is especially inhospitable. Bitterly cold, arid, and icy, winter typically finds me holed up inside my home, layers upon layers of knits covering my body. The days that fall between December and March don’t even really register as “real” to me, but seem more as a bleak, purgatorial ellipses between more forgiving months.

That said, waiting idly for spring to come seems like an awful waste of time. As much as I tend to hate winter and its sun-deprived days and subzero nights, I need to remind myself that each season contains beauty — and something worth savoring. To me, the beauty that winter holds is its bleakness. If summer is the drunken party animal of seasons, filled with riotous celebration and explosive color, winter is its sober, harshly minimal counterpart. Winter is subdued. It’s slow. And above all — winter is quiet. I think, if I had to choose, that this is what I love best about winter. Even if you are walking down a bustling city street, all of the sound seems to have been utterly consumed — muffled by the snow, ice, and cold. It’s a time when you can hear your thoughts, a time to let your mind wander, if you let it.

If you need some inspiration to get out of your own winter funk and into a more silence-embracing mindset, here are seven beautiful photos and songs to start your day on the right foot. —Max VIEW MORE

A Kitchen Remodel Fit for a Cookbook

Eva and her husband did all the demo on their own, including taking out the arch, and building reclaimed wood countertops and open shelving. They hired a contractor to remove the sliding glass door, install a wall with a window and install the flooring.

A Kitchen Remodel Fit for a Cookbook

Now that we’re deep into working on our home, I have a newfound and extreme appreciation for anyone who decides to DIY any level of their home makeover. From small painting projects to total overhauls, doing things on your own while you still live in the same space is no small undertaking. Today’s makeover comes from Eva Kosmas Flores, who had her own book contract (so exciting!) as inspiration to give her home kitchen a serious DIY makeover.

Based in Portland, OR, Eva is a full-time stylist, photographer and blogger. When she and her husband bought their 1930s English cottage-style home this summer, they knew the kitchen would need an update. So when Eva’s cookbook contract with Haughton Mifflin Harcourt came in and she knew she’d need a place to shoot her recipes, it was the perfect excuse to start with the kitchen. Along with her husband, Eva made over the majority of the space by hand, creating a dream room that will not only be a great place to cook on a day-to-day basis, but will be perfect for her book photography. Read on to hear more about the process and see photos of the final look! Thanks, Eva! xo, grace

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A Jewelery Maker’s 400-Square-Foot Nest in Philly

The first thing Madeline did when she got the keys to her place was paint all of the walls white, except for the bathroom, which she painted with Valspar's 5005-4B Green Peppercorn. "I have an enormous plant in my shower," she adds, "It's kind of ridiculous, but it does make my bathroom feel a bit like a tropical oasis, and you just can't beat that!" Adding a shelf to the radiator created more function and storage. On the windowsill is an oil painting Madeline's had since she was a teenager, along with her signature scent (Cannabis Santal by Fresh) and some candles.

A Jewelery Maker’s 400-Square-Foot Nest in Philly

When I graduated from art school and was working my first “big-city job,” I lived in a small, all-white 300-square-foot studio apartment in Toronto that I coined my “nest.” I’d ride my bike to work and back, so my $40 spoked beauty became a permanent fixture in the entryway, leaning in the space under a floating shelf. When jeweler Madeline Tolle shared with me that she jokingly calls her white 400-square-foot studio apartment by the same name and that one of her biggest concerns is the function of her bike, it felt like déjà vu! “I need my furniture to be in a way so that I can get my bike in, and rotated around to then hang on the ceiling!” And, oh, do I commiserate!

But even though Madeline’s space may be small, it’s darn mighty. As an independent jewelry maker who runs her own business, she spends most of her days away at her studio, so when she gets home at the end of a long day designing and producing her jewelry and managing her business, Georgraphy 541, her humble studio apartment is her sanctuary where the name of the game is calm coziness. -Sabrina

Photography by Zack Gross

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Home Ec: How to Keep a Clean Home

Home Ec: How to Keep a Clean Home

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Today is the very first post in a new and ongoing series on our site called Home Ec. Inspired by the classes some of us grew up taking, these new posts will be about simple ways to keep your home functional and beautiful and working to meet the needs of your family. Whether that means mastering the art of decluttering, making spaces pet-friendly, finding ways to keep kids’ rooms clean or just making tidying up easier, these posts are about finding ways to help make your home make you happy. There is never (ever) one right way to do things and there is no home or home plan that is perfect for every person. These posts are intended, much like Modern Etiquette, to help share some trusted guidelines that you can use, or tweak, to suit your needs.

I was SO happy to see all of your requests and ideas for upcoming columns, so please stay tuned for those topics soon. But first I wanted to start with a topic that’s near, although not always dear, to my heart: cleaning. To be quite honest, I don’t love cleaning. I am someone who has both learned to live somewhat minimally (so messes are less likely to happen) and someone who is pretty okay with things being piled up here and there and getting to the dishes when I have time. But I genuinely understand and embrace the idea that a clean, tidy house is one that helps you feel relaxed and restored at home. When the Mrs. Meyers Clean Day team sent me a copy of their “no-nonsense” clean home book, I gravitated toward one section of the book immediately: A quick and easy guide of what to clean in your home and how often. Broken down by frequency (i.e.: once a day, once a year), the book made all of the household chores on my list feel less like a burden and more like a simple guideline of things to do. Because let’s be honest, not everyone has time to mop the floors and scrub the sinks every day. But once a week? That might be doable.

No matter what frequency is right for you, this easy, downloadable guide is designed to help you have a map to follow when you have the time to spruce things up a bit. Whether you’re just spraying down your counters or getting down and dirty with your tile floors, it’s always true that chipping away a little bit every day always makes things a little easier. So I hope this starter guide will help you feel more in control of things at home and help make messes feel less overwhelming. Remember: no one, and no home, is perfect. If you can only get to one of these things on this list, it’s better than none. And it gets you one step closer to feeling like you can come home, drop your bags at the door and feel relaxed and calm. xo, grace

Download the printable guide here!

Anna Taratiel

"Dirtiest" collage by Anna Taratiel

Anna Taratiel

Lately I have been stumbling upon more and more incredible artwork on Instagram via our latest hashtag challenge, #DSShapes. In just a few weeks we’ve gotten over 5,000 entries and the photographs have been some of the best — and most inspiring — that we’ve seen since we started these visual challenges last year. There’s something about focusing on shapes, our most basic building forms, that inspires not just home design and patterns, but artists of all types.

Earlier this week someone recommended I check out an artist (more on him next week!) that lead to another and yet another that ultimately ended with me discovering Spanish artist, Anna Taratiel. Often working under the name “Ovni,” Anna creates stunning work that uses colorful tape as its main medium. Inspired by found objects and recycled materials, Anna likes to use bold, geometric shapes and bright colors to create work in a wide range of sizes, from small pieces on paper to huge installations in cities across the world. I’ve selected a few of my favorite pieces to share here this morning, but you can check out more of her work online herehereherehere and here. I hope it will inspire you and get all of us going on this cold winter morning. xo, grace

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Folded Clay Jewelry Dish

Folded Clay Jewelry Dish

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With an ever-increasing supply of jewelry, I often find my key pieces get lost amongst the pile, down the backs of sofas or mixed in with keys and loose change at the bottom of my bag. Organization is not my strong suit and it usually takes losing something special to me to change my attitude. Recently, that was a ring from my first-ever serious relationship. His grandma bought all the “daughters” of the family a ring with their birthstones set into it. We weren’t married, but it was her way of blessing the relationship and making me part of the family. That ring still meant a lot to me, even many years (and relationships) later.

I’m hoping it is misplaced somewhere around my flat. I’m pretty much betting it is, but a small part of me panics that it’s lost forever each time I think about it. So for my own peace of mind and in an attempt to avoid future disaster, I’ve made these jewelry dishes to place around my home in key places (front door, kitchen sink, bedside table, etc.) in an effort to keep my keepsakes safe. —Fran VIEW MORE

Studio Tour: Maira Kalman

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Studio Tour: Maira Kalman

In a time when all of lower Manhattan seems to have been overrun by big-box stores and Equinox gyms, the West Village studio of legendary illustrator Maira Kalman seems almost mythic — a romantic, unfussy, and deeply “New York” vestige of what the area used to be; something that one would expect to find in movies, but never in real life. Housed just a few floors down from the apartment she has called home for over 30 years, Maira’s studio is everything you want a studio to be and more. Homasote-covered walls are bedecked with handwritten quotations, inspiring bits of ephemera, news clippings, and photographs of Maira’s children. Tools of the trade — from brushes and watercolor palettes to pigment-covered paint rags — cover workspaces, just as beautiful and interesting as the pictures they create. A Frank Gehry cardboard chair sits in the corner, surrounded by books. With a feeling that reads more “club house” than “office,” the whole space pulsates with a nearly palpable creative energy.

Like Kalman’s own work, which toes the line between the naive and utterly genius, her studio’s charm comes from its imperfections and personalized touches. It’s a functional space, but one that bears the markings of time, labor, and love. Although each item within Maira’s studio seems to hold a special significance to her, like reminders of specific events or people, an outsider might look at it as something of a treasure trove. Despite its small size, this is a space you could get lost in. —Max

Click here to purchase Maira’s latest book, My Favorite Thingsand check out our tour of her beautiful apartment here!

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DIY Origami Wall Display

DIY Origami Wall Display

DIY Origami Art by Coco Sato for Design*Sponge
As a paper artist, I am constantly experimenting with new ways to use origami that showcase the essence of Japanese aesthetics. This framed modular origami wall display is a unique and striking way of showing off your paper skills. Modular origami is formed by interlocking simple unit pieces, making it easy for all crafter levels, including children! I am excited to share this DIY tutorial with the Design*Sponge community and I would love to see your interpretation of this project, so if you give this a try, please share photos of your creation on Instagram or Twitter by hashtagging #giantorigami and tell me your story. Hope to see you there! –Coco Sato of Giant Origami

Photography by Emma Gutteridge

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New: Rebecca Atwood 2015 Fabric Collection

New: Rebecca Atwood 2015 Fabric Collection

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I’m 90% sure it wasn’t intentional, but somehow everything in my home has gravitated towards blue and white. Whether it’s a vintage indigo fabric turned into a headboard (DIY to come!), our growing collection of old Blue Willow china or my favorite Frances Palmer pitcher, every time I look around I find myself catching all the blue and white. So when I saw the new 2015 fabric collection from Rebecca Atwood, who certainly knows her way around a great blue, I was hooked.

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Inspired by the coast of New England, Rebecca’s latest collection includes a series of digitally printed designs and one-of-a-kind, hand-dyed shibori panels. The digitally printed linen fabrics use water-based pigment inks (which are ultra-low VOC) without any harsh chemicals and use a process that produces close to no wastewater. The new pillows have patterns inspired by potato prints, collage stripes and oversized brush marks. I’m such a sucker for patterns that look like simple, handprinted designs, so those brush mark and potato print-inspired pieces are going straight to the top of my wish list. Click here to check out more of Rebecca’s collections and to order online. xo, grace

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Life & Business Profile: Maptote

Life & Business Profile: Maptote

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Some of my favorite brands, products and businesses only offer a handful of things, focusing on quality rather than quantity and valuing simplicity over complication. And it’s these sentiments that Brooklyn couple Rachel Rheingold and Michael Berick brought to Maptote, a line of soft goods decorated, illustrated, and designed with — you guessed it — maps! Founded in 2006, Maptote has been featured in dozens of publications and Michael and Rachel have had the chance to work with some massive brands, from Martha Stewart to Urban Outfitters to the Hudson’s Bay Company, so I’m tickled pink to be sharing their thoughts on security, quitting their day jobs, the business side of creativity and the importance of having an authentic passion for what you do. — Sabrina

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Life & Business Profile: Bre of Scout & Catalogue

Life & Business Profile: Bre of Scout & Catalogue

Life & Business: Scout & Catalogue

I only started my blog, Hands and Hustle, last year, but blogging has already helped me find and hone my voice. It’s also led to friendships and new connections, has been immensely rewarding and, most importantly, has helped me fine-tune what I want to do and how I want to do it. And blogging is exactly what helped Vancouver-born Bre discover and develop Scout & Catalogue (which, yes, is spelled with a “ue” if you’re a Canuck like Bre and me!). What started as a blog chronicling her experience living in Mexico has turned into a successful accessory brand inspired and influenced by Mexico’s Bohemian beach culture. Today Bre chats with us about borrowing from the best, brand beliefs, the importance of support and what fuels her. —Sabrina

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The 20-Minute Bedroom Refresh

The 20-Minute Bedroom Refresh

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When it comes to hitting the “refresh” button on life during the New Year, it can be tempting to go all out — from joining a gym and purchasing healthy foods to (finally) making over your home so that it’s more beautiful, relaxing, and cheerful. Things like time and budget, however, can throw an unwanted wrench into your refresh plans, and you might find yourself at a stand-still. When things like this get me into a snag, I find it helpful to turn to this age-old truism: A little goes a long way. If re-outfiting your wardrobe is out of the question, sometimes all it takes is a fresh manicure or haircut to make you feel new and refreshed. By the same token, if getting your home in top-to-bottom order seems a little too overwhelming, choosing a single space or nook to focus on can yield similar mindset-recharging results. For a quick at-home update, I often turn to the bedroom. As an overall space, it’s generally pretty easy to tackle, bed linens are often affordable, and a few simple steps can make a world of difference. Continue below for my tips for giving your own bedroom a good ol’ 1-2-3 makeover! —Max

This post is sponsored by Target. Shop Home Décor for modern luxury made easy.

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