Book Tour: In the Company of Women Fall 2016!

Book Tour: In the Company of Women Fall 2016!

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BIG NEWS! Tickets and details for the fall book tour to celebrate our new book, In the Company of Women are LIVE!

Head over to designsponge.com/book (link in profile above) to check out all 12 dates and reserve your tickets now! Each ticket includes a copy of the book and our limited-edition illustrated tote bag, while supplies last. I’ll be sharing more about each city (and who will be on each panel!) after Labor Day, but if you want to grab a spot before then, you can get your tickets now* and secure a tote bag, too! See you in October! xo, grace

*LA and Seattle ticket details TK. But you can mark the dates in your calendar now to join us!

in the company of women

How To Get Organized In Style + Free Fancy Printable Labels

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How To Get Organized In Style + Free Fancy Printable Labels

Image above: Lisa Congdon for Design*Sponge Printable Organization Labels | Download them here!

Getting “organized” has so many different meanings for everyone. For me, it’s generally a catch-all phrase for getting my entire life together, which really isn’t a realistic goal for a Saturday afternoon. After getting discouraged for (literally) years and then living with my jumble of everything from shoes to home office accoutrements, I decided that all of the 10-point tip articles were kind of right. Start small and label — so easy, yet so hard to actually get started and keep in the habit of doing.

I decided that I was going to do some digging in our archives for some inspiration and actually attempt to tackle a few key problem areas in my home. Note I said home, not life. The life organization will come in time, but it needs the seeds of environmental changes and habits. Click through my slideshow to see some of my motivation, and if you’re looking to find some peace in your own closet or office, I’m hoping these tools will help you, too!

And one final note — I know some of you out there have this organization thing down. Would you PLEASE SHARE your tips and/or what keeps you motivated to keep up with good organization habits? Your methods might just be my saving grace! —Caitlin

P.S. Be sure to get to the last slide to download Lisa Congdon’s labels! I’ll be using them this weekend for some summer clothes going into storage.

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Studio Tour: Sakura Bloom

Studio Tour: Sakura Bloom, Design*Sponge

Studio Tour: Sakura Bloom

Founder of Studio Matsalla Interiors, Vanessa Matsalla has built quite the name for herself by crafting the look of homes and studios throughout California’s beach towns. While every client wants something a bit different, they each come to Vanessa because of her dynamite aesthetic. She describes her look as “eclectic/coastal,” and brings together multiple patterns, textiles and colors in a way that captures both grooviness and refinement.

The more refined side of Vanessa’s aesthetic can be seen in her design for San Diego’s Sakura Bloom. She helped the brand — which specializes in baby slings — set up shop in the dreamiest of places: a gazebo! Surrounded by tropical greenery, the location of the studio was undoubtedly ideal. When Vanessa first saw the space, though, its interior was in pretty bad shape. In order for it to embody Lynne Banach’s company’s “modern and cozy” vibe, it was clear to Vanessa that the gazebo was going to need a total overhaul. That being said, she gutted it so she’d have a clean slate to work with.

After construction was completed, Vanessa went about painting the studio’s interior white, filling it with streamlined furniture, and peppering the workspaces inside with minimal accessories. All three of these moves capture the modern aesthetic Lynne was looking for, but more importantly, make the space all about Sakura Bloom’s products. The brand’s colorful collection of baby slings stands out and becomes the space’s pièce de résistance when set against the recessive, white background.

In the end, Vanessa says Sakura Bloom’s headquarters space was a “dream to design,” and after taking a look at the results I’m sure you’ll see why. Not only is the location completely unique, but now that Vanessa has revived the ramshackle gazebo, a sense of serenity emanates from the studio. It goes without saying, but you have to click through to explore this oasis. It’s a one-of-a-kind studio that can’t be missed.—Garrett

Photography by Molly Jean

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10 Pairs of Eyeglasses for Summer-to-Fall Reading

My teenage self would be so happy that eyeglasses are now considered a cool fashion accessory. These round frames from Warby Parker remind me of my beloved high school glasses. *For most glasses (including sunglasses and vintage frames), you can easily have your optometrist swap in RX lenses. So if you fall in love with a frame that isn't already RX, just talk to you doctor and they can help you out!

10 Pairs of Eyeglasses for Summer-to-Fall Reading

I got my first pair of prescription eyeglasses in high school. They were thin, black wire frames from the CK collection and I felt like I had just become a big-city runway model just by owning them, and I couldn’t wait to show them off. But instead I was met with a bunch of old-school “four eyes” jokes and kids asking why I didn’t “just get contacts.” Giving into peer pressure, I traded my glasses for contacts and it wasn’t until a few years ago that I re-embraced my glasses. Now my prescription is so strong that I can only wear thick frames, but thankfully they’ve come back into style, so I’ve got some great options for late-summer-into-fall reading.

Whether you fill your frames with lenses for near- or far-sightedness (or like me, bi-focal lenses now, #ugh), these frames will help you fly through vacation novels like a pro and add a little color (and pattern!) to your wardrobe. xo, grace

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DIY Floral Votives

DIY Floral Votives

DIY Floral Votives on Design*Sponge

I love the look of pressed flowers, and lately I’ve been looking for ways to display them around my home. I’ve seen beautiful floral ice buckets (essentially flowers, petals, and leaves frozen into ice) floating around the Internet for a while now, but when one popped up on my Pinterest feed the other day, it hit me — I could make a longer lasting version using pressed flowers and glass votive holders!

DIY Floral Votives on Design*Sponge

After putting some thought into it, I decided it would be even easier to print photos of flowers onto transparency paper (I had these done at my local print shop), and then attach those onto the glasses. All four designs are included as downloadable images below — I printed them as-is at 4″ by 10″ to fit my whisky glasses, but feel free to resize them to fit whatever glasses you use. I’m definitely looking forward to using these for a few more backyard barbecues before summer ends! —Kathleen

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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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