Emily Thompson Flowers + Best of the Web

Emily Thompson Flowers, located at 142 Beekman Street in lower Manhattan.

Emily Thompson Flowers + Best of the Web

For our final weekly wrap-up of the year, we thought we’d share a little peek into one of our favorite new shops, fully decked-out in festive holiday style! Opened a little less than a year ago, Emily Thompson Flowers calls lower Manhattan’s historic South Street Seaport home. Although the Seaport has a reputation as a tourist destination, Thompson’s outpost is part of a steady new crop of artists, designers, and creative-types that have set up shop there, capitalizing on the area’s industrial, old world beauty. Trained as a sculptor and known for her wickedly morbid flair, Thompson isn’t exactly what one would call the archetypical florist. Still, it is her strongly personal aesthetic and voice that makes her work so unique and captivatingly beautiful. Drawn to unusual blooms, rich colors, and decorative pieces that tell a story, Thompson has ensured that a visit to her shop is something of an experience. Throughout the small space, one can find numerous narratives unfolding, from custom products forged from creative partnerships to epically imaginative window displays that feature her own artwork. Although the shop’s corner lot is relatively tiny, I had the feeling that I could stay forever and still have more to discover. Check out all of the photos from our visit in the slideshow! Have a wonderful weekend! xo, Max

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Banoffee Pie from The Fat Radish Kitchen Diaries

Banoffee Pie from The Fat Radish Kitchen Diaries

Excerpted from <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Fat-Radish-Kitchen-Diaries/dp/0847843343/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1418145190&sr=8-1&keywords=the+fat+radish+cookbook">The Fat Radish Kitchen Diaries</a>, Rizzoli  2014, Photographs by Nicole Franzen.
If you’ve never heard of Banoffee Pie, be prepared to discover your new favorite dessert. My favorite dessert flavor combination of all time is chocolate and banana, so when I had my first bite of Banoffee years ago, I was an instant fan. Banoffee Pie is an English tradition of pie with bananas, cream and toffee made from boiled condensed milk. Most versions I’ve tried have chocolate drizzled on top or built into the pie, but it’s not required if you’d prefer to stick to the banana-toffee combo. One of my favorite versions comes from a restaurant on the border of the Lower East Side and Chinatown in Manhattan, The Fat Radish.

Excerpted from <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Fat-Radish-Kitchen-Diaries/dp/0847843343/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1418145190&sr=8-1&keywords=the+fat+radish+cookbook">The Fat Radish Kitchen Diaries</a>, Rizzoli  2014, Photographs by Nicole Franzen.
Run by Ben Towill and Phil Winser along with chef Nick Wilber, The Fat Radish is something of a mecca for health-conscious eaters who love food. They serve a Macro Bowl that is a favorite of just about everyone I know these days, but I tend to be drawn toward their sweeter offerings. This pie is a great example and is one of the many delicious recipes from their debut cookbook, The Fat Radish Kitchen Diaries. Julia co-authored the cookbook with Ben and Phil and I had the pleasure of trying just about every recipe in this book during the process, but this pie was at the very top of my list. Whether you’re looking for something special and unexpected to bring to a holiday party or just want to try something new at home, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. xo, grace

Photographs by Nicole Franzen

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A Balanced LA Home Filled With Humor and Heart

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A Balanced LA Home Filled With Humor and Heart

Like most things in life, creating a home as a couple is all about compromise. Just ask Lara Bandler and Chad Hogan, the owners of this beautiful home in Topanga Canyon, CA. The couple met over eight years ago in New York City while working for Vitamin Water, Lara as the director of public relations and Chad as the creative director. Over that time, their relationship toggled between friendship and dating, but it wasn’t until Lara moved out to Los Angeles to start her own PR firm that the two decided to “make it real.” Now engaged, the couple have both made Los Angeles County their home, choosing the Topanga Canyon region after Chad came across an article about it in Rolling Stone.

“On our first drive through Topanga Canyon,” Lara says, “we were on our way to the State Park to hike and saw an open house sign on a cool old house. We walked in, and the rest is history.” The previous owner of the house had lived in it since it was built in 1948. It was outdated and sorely in need of repair, but the potential lying within its post and beam construction was enough to tamper any nagging doubts. “There was an energy about the house that was palpable.”

Over the past year, Lara and Chad have been working on turning the house into a place where they both feel at home, something that meant learning to co-exist with and embrace each other’s different tastes and styles. “Chad is very into functionality and has a strong industrial aesthetic,” Lara says. “He veers towards raw wood and black. I, on the other hand, am into a super clean look and feel – comfortable and white and plush.” It was this push-and-pull, however, that allowed the two to arrive at this beautiful happy medium; a home that is filled with warmth, light, and touches of irreverent humor. Both contemporary and eclectic, cozy and polished, the home strikes the perfect balance. —Max

Photographs by Heather Culp.

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Holiday Baking Ideas

Holiday Baking Ideas

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Baking for friends, family, and Santa is something I look forward to each Christmas. To be honest, lately I mostly look forward to someone else’s baking! So I thought it would be great to present a Holiday Baking roundup for those of you who still have a few more parties to go to, or who want to share something special with the family on Christmas Day. This is a mix of savory and sweet baked goods, with some nontraditional holiday ideas thrown in to shake things up! And a quick bit of advice on making Christmas wishes come true – if you’re still not sure that Santa will bring you your top Christmas list item, try leaving these cinnamon buns by photographer Beth Kirby with a pot of hot coffee! For more baking ideas over the holidays, visit our Food & Drink archives.  -Kristina

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Jenna’s Bedroom Makeover

Jenna’s Bedroom Makeover

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I will never fail to be amazed by the power of molding and decorative woodwork. I’ve always had a soft spot for painted wood paneling and wainscoting, but when you combine them and throw in a beautiful wooden floor, I’m sold.

This master bedroom makeover comes from Jenna Sue, who blogs about her home renovation projects in California. While her bedroom started as a simple space with beige carpeting, it has become a beautiful and cozy escape. I really think all of the incredible wood detailing happening in this space (along with rich, grey paints) makes it a knock-out. I love the way that Jenna added a wide mix of textures (faux sheepskin throws, sisal baskets and wool bedding) to create warmth and add a nice contrast to all the new wooden construction. Click through to see more of Jenna’s master bedroom makeover after the jump! xo, grace

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A Rural 1800s Barn Becomes a Modern Home

"The fireplace is based on a Finnish design and acts as a furnace to heat the entire main floor," Bill says. "The top oven is ideal for baking bread or stewing in cast iron."

A Rural 1800s Barn Becomes a Modern Home

After spending several years living within the concrete confines of Manhattan, designer Bill Hovard began to get the itch that befalls many a longterm New Yorker—the desire to uproot to greener, quieter pastures. In 2002, Bill began his search by drawing a 90-mile radius around the city and eventually followed the country’s siren call to the quiet town of South Kortright, NY. Nestled deep within the Catskills, South Kortright features breathtaking mountain views, hillsides filled with grazing livestock, and the zen-like comfort that can only be found when one travels beyond the realm of cellphone reception. Although Bill had originally envisioned settling in a Federal-style farmhouse, his path led him to a derelict, but charming, nineteenth century barn. Despite its disrepair, the structure was solid and featured hand-hewn, old-growth post and beam construction, a bluestone  foundation, and dazzling natural surroundings. “It was love at first sight,” Bill says.

Once he settled on the location for his country retreat, it was time to get to work. Over the course of eight years, Bill renovated the barn into a beautiful, comfortable, and fully-functional living space. “It was important to strike a balance between old new” Bill notes, “and no attempt was made to hide or mask renovations or additions. Ultimately, it was preserving the past and creating a dynamic space with 21st century amenities.” For Bill, this meant sourcing materials that were regional and appropriate to the home: locally quarried bluestone, repurposed oak fixtures salvaged from other structures, and milled cherrywood for the floors and cabinetry. Filled in with antique and Modernist furniture, the home is a balanced, timeless mixture of Bill’s tastes and regional flavor.

Today, Bill has vacated the city permanently to focus full-time on Hudson Made, a lifestyle brand that features artisanal wares from regional artists and makers. “In late August, the western field on the property is in full bloom with milkweed and offers nourishment to monarch butterfly on their migration South,” Bill says. “This is how the property was suitably named. ‘Milkweed Barn’ has subsequently gone from weekend retreat to full-time residence. It is now home.” —Max

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The Changing Pay Rates for Creative Talent

The Changing Pay Rates for Creative Talent

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This year’s radio season is just about over, so for our 99th show, I wanted to address a complicated, controversial and crucial topic affecting our community: The Changing Pay Rates for Creative Talent in the Internet and Pinterest era. This topic is one I’ve wanted to discuss and have struggled with myself over the years. While I think most people would agree that anyone doing work should be compensated for their time and skills, these days the amount and method of compensation seems to be changing rapidly, and the idea of paying for creative talent seems less popular than ever.

So I invited Susan and William Brinson of House of Brinson, Sarah Brysk Cohen of Blossom & Branch and interior designer Emily Henderson to join me on-air to discuss the topic. Their insight on the idea of “free” work was both important and eye-opening. I so appreciated their honest and candid thoughts on what creative work is worth, why people seem to expect more for less these days and how best to counteract the trend and educate people on the value of experience and creative skills. If you only listen to a few shows this year, I hope you’ll make this one of them, because this topic is something that affects all of us, whether we create or consume creative content on any level. xo, grace

“It borders on irresponsible to start to take work for free. Exposure only gets you so far. The word ‘exposure’ gives me chills these days.”
-Sarah Brysk Cohen on After the Jump

“You can’t ever ask somebody to go out of pocket. If somebody goes to you – that’s one thing. If you have a business, you should be covering other people’s expenses for your business – bar none.”
-Emily Henderson on After the Jump

To Listen: Click here to listen online or click here to listen on iTunes.

Recycled Jeans Become a Comfy Lounge

Recycled Jeans Become a Comfy Lounge

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Most of the before & afters we share here on the site start out with the same materials: paint, wood and metal. But every now and then we see something fun and outside of the box. Or should I say bag?

Today’s makeover comes from KT Doyle in Australia, who turns old jeans into comfy, bean bag-style chairs. The process involves collecting old denim (KT gets hers from the Endeavour Foundation, which supports people with disabilities, and the RSPCA, whose mission is to protect and care for animals through advocacy and shelter), washing and cutting it and turning it into patchwork lounge chairs that people can use in their homes. I love when any group can tie their source materials into supporting a charity in some way, so this project was right up my alley. KT shares her full process and sourcing details after the jump! xo, grace

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DIY Branch Ladder

DIY Branch Ladder

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

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15 Gift Subscriptions for the Holidays

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15 Gift Subscriptions for the Holidays

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

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In the Hudson Valley, Room for Work and Play

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In the Hudson Valley, Room for Work and Play

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

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

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

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25 Inspiring Collections

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

25 Inspiring Collections

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

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Biz Ladies: Your Most Overlooked Biz Success Secret

Biz Ladies: Your Most Overlooked Biz Success Secret

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

Read the full post after the jump…

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A Minimal and Liveable New Zealand Home By The Beach

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

A Minimal and Liveable New Zealand Home By The Beach

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

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

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