Life & Business: Young Huh

Life & Business: Young Huh

Life & Business: Young Huh, Design*Sponge
Named one of Lonny Magazine’s “Next Big Names In Design,” Young Huh is the woman behind many an immaculate home. Designing interiors, however, wasn’t always in the cards for the New York City-based creative. Not long ago, Young was blazing a trail towards becoming a lawyer. She even got so far as to pass the NY and NJ bar exams! But she quickly realized that while her mind was in the courtroom, her heart was somewhere else — somewhere prettier, where textiles and paint swatches beat out testimonials and witnesses. Armed with the confidence of family and friends, Young left the world of law behind and took an internship at a design firm. The rest really is history.

Since setting out on her own in 2007, Young has dealt with her fair share of difficult clients, navigated the ups and downs of being her own boss, and learned one valuable lesson: keep the faith. That’s what I admire most about Young. She embodies the belief that with an eye on the prize, and unwavering positivity, it’ll all be okay in the end. It took stamina, but holding tightly to that ideal has gotten her to where she is today. Click through to read all about Young’s rise to the top. Enjoy! —Garrett

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24 Hours in Nantucket, MA

24 Hours in Nantucket, MA

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Nearly 30 miles into the North Atlantic (and seemingly a world away from the Massachusetts mainland), today’s city guide brings us to the enchanted enclave of Nantucket Island. Once the whaling capital of the world, Nantucket hasn’t changed all that much from its whaling heyday — at least, architecturally speaking. Absent of a single traffic signal, neon sign, big box store or restaurant chain, the waterside downtown village has remained paved in century-old cobblestone that, at least according to island legend, once served as stabilizing ballast on trade ships.

“From the minute you take your first step onto Nantucket, you’ll understand why its original Native American inhabitants named it a word meaning ‘faraway island’,” the writer of today’s city guide, Andrea E. McHugh, remarks. Despite its reputation for being a lofty and expensive place to visit — especially in the summer months — today, Andrea is showing us how “you don’t need a trust fund to enjoy the very best that ‘The Little Grey Lady of the Sea’ has to offer.” Sabrina

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Hand-Lettered Quotations: Day 2

Hand-Lettered Quotations: Day 2

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All week we’re being joined by artist Chandan Mahimkar, who has created these beautiful, hand-lettered pieces inspired by some of our favorite creatives. Yesterday we saw Chandan’s hand-lettered version of a Paula Scher quotation and today we’re hearing from author Joseph Chilton Pearce. It’s a wonderful thought to keep in mind as we head into a new work week full of challenges and opportunities. xo, grace

Doing It His Way In Cape Town, South Africa

Doing It His Way In Cape Town, South Africa, on Design*Sponge

Doing It His Way In Cape Town, South Africa

Nearby the city center in Cape Town, South Africa, freelance designer, director, and entertainment consultant Chad Findlay pulled off quite the feat — transforming the basement of his parents’ home into his own dream apartment. Having studied at the College of Magic from the age of nine, Chad was well-versed in directing large productions, but this renovation required some unexpected tricks, like excavating mounds of dirt and large boulders out of the mountainside to make way for steel supports. With the help of his family, Chad was able to design his ideal space on a small budget while decorating with pieces he loves. Scouring sales, discount outlets, and his grandmother’s furniture collection “could have been a disastrous combination!” he jokes. Nearly every fixture and finish in the flat was free or salvaged, an act that pleases the practical performer greatly. “I love the fact [that] everything has a story to tell… with a balance between vintage and contemporary — not too granny, not too showroom.”

As in many homes, the details keep changing — and Chad swears it’s not an illusion. “I go to bed, I wake up, and things have moved,” he says. “There are either a bunch of very eager decorating fairies finding their way inside on a nightly basis, or I sleep-decorate.” In spite of the unexplained phenomenon, Chad feels “most thankful for the space, the location, and the opportunity to do it my way!” —Annie

Photography by Sam Burrows

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In Canada, a Dog Lover’s Century-Old Rental

In Canada, a Dog Lover's Century-Old Rental, Design*Sponge

In Canada, a Dog Lover’s Century-Old Rental

By day, Brittany Shmyr is a Visual Manager for Anthropologie, overseeing “…all aspects of presentation, display and merchandising within the store.” By night, at their shop The Nested Owl, she and a close friend give new life to old furniture. So it comes as no surprise that Brittany’s home in Vancouver, British Columbia is a cozy and stylish retreat.

Built in 1912, her building’s one-bedroom rental wasn’t easy to snag. The competitive Vancouver housing market had Brittany resigned to the idea that a not-so-ideal studio was the only thing she would be able to afford. Not to mention her pup, Stella — while adorable and charming — wasn’t welcome in many of the city’s buildings. Three months into her search, and just when she was beginning to feel a bit desperate, Brittany’s coworker told her to check out this pet-friendly, vintage complex a few blocks from Anthropologie. The first time Brittany stepped inside the pretty brick building, she knew it was right. Unfortunately, many other potential renters did, too. Three times she showed up to viewings only to be beaten to the punch by a scurry of eager applicants. Her resolve, however, didn’t go unnoticed. One day, the landlord, determined to help Brittany move in, let her view this unit before the listing went public — just the advantage she needed to win this rent race.

Overlooking both ocean and mountains, the corner unit features original details such as a clawfoot tub, bay windows and hardwood floors. Since moving in, Brittany has decked out the rental in vintage finds as well as some of her own artwork; the latter being a clever way for her to save money on sprucing up the space. “I believe it takes time to allow your home to become you,” she says. “I don’t like to rush things, or buy items just to fill my home. I want to love each piece that comes through my door.” Whether that piece is Scandinavian-inspired, vintage or new, each one comes together in what Brittany calls her “no style” style. This decorating strategy is basically strategy-less. It’s more focused on crafting a cozy home that inspires, as opposed to working to achieve a specific look. The technique has proven to be a glowing success, as you’ll see when you virtually step inside the home that Brittany shares with pup Stella. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Emily Santi

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The Eclectic Home of Two Washington, D.C. Go-Getters

The Eclectic Home of Two Washington, D.C. Go-Getters, Design*Sponge

The Eclectic Home of Two Washington, D.C. Go-Getters

Without a doubt, environmental lawyer Paulo and his partner Josh, an entrepreneur, are one motivated couple. Starting up companies, working for the White House — it’s all in a day’s work for this happy pair. Their demanding work schedules keep them busy around the clock and have proven to be a major factor in many of their biggest decisions. Picking a place to live together was no exception. While Paulo spends his days at the office, Josh works from home. So when they kicked off their Washington, D.C. home hunt, a bright and spacious layout was at the top of their list of must-haves. A close second? Living near friends. That way, when they had a sliver of free time, they didn’t waste any of it commuting to the fun.

Throughout their search, most of the homes they toured simply didn’t cut it. Dark and vintage, or tiny and new, none had both the space and character that the pair desired. That is until they stumbled upon this converted, 1920s-era, Studebaker car dealership. Carefully updated before the 2008 market crash, the units were originally designed to be condos, so space was not at a minimum. Neither were giant windows or original details. Convinced it was perfect for them, the couple pulled the trigger and moved into the top-floor unit.

Immediately after signing the lease, Paulo and Josh began methodically planning out their home’s design. Their strategizing went so well, in fact, everything was in place only a week after getting the keys! Global influences, vintage finds, and a touch of glamor mingle throughout the apartment’s 715 square feet of space. Josh says he owes it all to Paulo’s love of decorating. Paulo took the reins while carefully keeping in mind Josh’s request that their first home together “… feature souvenirs, photos, and books that [would remind them] of fond memories and adventures.”

As you’ll see, Paulo has not only achieved that goal, but he has also created a space conducive to making new memories. His purposeful design choices when it comes to the home’s flow facilitate both entertaining friends as well as nights in, cuddling with his partner. “We are most thankful to have a cozy place to come home to,” he says. “Whenever we have a hard day at work or come back from a long trip, we light some candles, turn on some music or a movie, make dinner or get takeout, and snuggle together on the couch.” If that doesn’t sound like living the dream, I am not sure what is. Click through to see just how Paulo and Josh’s very different styles have come together in one cohesive, eclectic home. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Josh Hurd

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“English Tables” By Kathryn Walton-Elliott

“English Tables” By Kathryn Walton-Elliott

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[Today is the 4th installment of our new essay column, curated by Ashley C. Ford. You can read previous installments here.]

In 2006, I flew to England to study for a year. By the following September, I had moved in with the woman I would marry. As Kate and I started building a life together, she introduced me to friends and family, individuals who would become touchstones during my time in the UK. Though I initially met them in parking lots, at front doors and over the phone, I didn’t really get to know any of them until we gathered around tables of all shapes and sizes. There was the refinished 1940s table where we hosted dinner parties, the patched-together Thanksgiving surface made from doors and camping furniture, my mother-in-law’s beautiful oval piece, and even a cheap patio table that saw us through months of renovation. It was around all these and more that I connected with the new people in my life and built sturdy relationships with them.

My first memory of a meal with my wife is in a London curry house where we each silently tried to guess if this was a date. It didn’t take long, maybe a couple of weeks, for us to figure out how we felt about each other. After that, I spent many meals perched at a tiny, dusty table in the cheap 1930s terrace Kate was remodeling at the time. Flexible eating surfaces have featured heavily in our relationship, since we can’t resist the challenge of making a home our own. After that first house sold, we took on another in Bristol that lacked heating and a proper kitchen. Unable to live anywhere else during the renovations, we moved from room to room, cooking on a camping stove and dining at that basic wooden patio table that took up more than its fair share of our limited living space.

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Hand-Lettered Quotations from Chandan Mahimkar

Hand-Lettered Quotations from Chandan Mahimkar

Quote 1 - Paula Scher
This week, I thought it would be fun to share some inspiration in the form of hand-lettered quotations. After meeting artist Chandan Mahimkar on Instagram (he submitted some beautiful lettering projects to our #dslettering challenge!), I reached out to see if he’d be interested in working together to select design-inspired quotations to letter and share here. Thankfully, he was game and he’ll be sharing one with us every morning this week, starting with this excellent thought from graphic designer, educator and painter, Paula Scher.

Chandan Mahimkar
About Chandan: Based in Mumbai, Chandan works as a multi-disciplinary designer and is a passionate lettering artist. He graduated from Sir J.J. Institute of Applied Art in Mumbai, where he now heads “Design L&K Saatchi & Saatchi,” the specialist Design division of L&K Saatchi & Saatchi, India. Prior to that, he has worked for top Indian advertising agencies like FCB Ulka, Grey Worldwide & DDB Mudra. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter.

Artwork by Xochi Solis + Best of the Web

Artwork by Xochi Solis + Best of the Web

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As we head out into the weekend, I wanted to wrap up the week with this beautiful mixed-media artwork by Austin-based artist, Xochi Solis. Xochi uses layers of gouache, colored paper, found images and acetate to create these amazing pieces that are full of texture and layered pattern. It makes me want to break out my craft supplies and start experimenting with torn paper. But in the meantime, I’ll be admiring these pieces over at Leif. Click here to check out more of Xochi’s work online. Best wishes for a safe and happy weekend! xo, grace

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In the Kitchen With: Jeff Shields’ Chicken Pot Pie

In the Kitchen With: Jeff Shields’ Chicken Pot Pie

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I’m a sucker for puff pastry and, generally, things cooked in crust. I love the way the crust soaks up the juices of the filling on one side, yet stays crispy on the other. Cobblers, double-crusted pies, empanadas, sausage rolls… I love them all. I also love this week’s recipe, Chicken Pot Pie, shared with us by Jeff Shields, the head chef at Eugene & Co., in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn. Jeff’s pot pie is adapted for the home to make it easy to pull together quickly, so please do use store-bought puff pastry without guilt! —Kristina

Why Jeff loves this recipe: I love this recipe because it’s my wife’s longtime favorite dish. The dish is hearty and great for entertaining — you can put it in the oven before entertaining, so the smell of it cooking wafts through your home as guests arrive. There’s also something very nostalgic about seeing a hot pie pulled out of the oven. It’s a great all-season dish paired with a leafy salad in the summer, or roasted vegetables in the winter.

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What’s In Your Toolbox: Traci Page Morris

What’s In Your Toolbox: Traci Page Morris

What's In Your Toolbox: Traci Morris, on Design*Sponge
Watercolor painter Traci Page Morris works at her Brooklyn table illustrating natural plants, gems, and foods gathered from her worldly explorations. Over many journeys and slowly-forming collections through the years, Traci discovered her preference for archiving ephemeral details in paintings rather than photographs. “I often chronicle my travels in my watercolor sketchbook to capture the moment,” she reveals.

Most of Traci’s art supplies can be taken on the road, or at least easily relocated to the pantry from her multipurpose dining room studio — where perhaps an appetizing texture might catch her eye. The tiniest, most delicate features are the ones that beg further examination, and she sketches intricately interacting lines before filling them with dusty washes of color. Inspired by the bold, bright greens in succulents and Monstera leaves, the painter has learned to follow her passions, having recently left a corporate design career in pursuit of her illustration practice. “Take risks,” she advises, but “do it to make yourself happy first.” —Annie

Photography by Cory Smith

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Life & Business: Katie Sturino

Life & Business: Katie Sturino

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If you’re active on Instagram, chances are you’ve liked lots of photos by entrepreneur, publicist, and social media enthusiast Katie Sturino. The brains and bod behind The 12ish Style, her site exploring “style for size 12ish – 18ish girls living in a size 2 world” — as well as human mom of TOAST MEETS WORLD™, the famous floppy-tongued puppy mill rescue — Katie knows a thing or two about how to blow up brands online. Her fashion accessory PR firm “was Tinder before it was Tinder, but now everyone thinks I’m that Tinder.” Sharing the same trade name as a popular dating app notwithstanding, Katie makes her own connections promoting her clients’ small businesses, finding that she feels successful only when they are.

Wanting to offer that same boost to everyone, Katie is passionate about creating a safe space for body positive messaging. “For me, it’s less about selling clothes than it is about selling confidence to women,” she explains, “And making sure they know they are good just the way they are.” With the help of her two other canine kids Muppet and Pants, and alongside The Shelter Pet Project, Katie uses her expertise to encourage the adoption of lovable shelter animals awaiting forever homes around the country. “You have to pay it forward!” —Annie

Photography courtesy of Katie Sturino

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Life & Business: Stephanie Thomas

Life & Business: Stephanie Thomas

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As a stylist who focuses on fashion for people with disabilities, Stephanie Thomas has had to carve her own path. When she first began exploring the topic in the early 1990s, she found not only a lack of clothing options, but also a lack of awareness about the necessity of fashion aimed at those with disabilities. Since then, it’s been her mission to “challenge people’s negative perceptions of dressing with disabilities.”

Founder and editor-in-chief of Cur8able (a site dedicated to curating the best in disability fashion), and a fashion instructor at the Art Institute of California, Stephanie has become a “disability fashion thought-leader.” In addition to her teaching and editing, she is a stylist for paralympians, actors, and public figures with disabilities. She’ll be branching out even further soon, offering seminars to the general public. “Just as people without disabilities benefit from understanding basic styling,” so do those with disabilities, and Stephanie intends to use her decades of knowledge to provide specialized styling tips to that underserved audience.

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Being a trailblazer comes with its own unique challenges — “everything is unforseen, because [the road] doesn’t exist”— but Stephanie’s passion and trust in herself are her greatest weapons. Of course, one can’t always rise to the challenge, but when that happens, “it’s not so much a failure as a tool to refocus.” That perspective allows her to take risks, to follow her vision, and to work toward a more inclusive fashion industry — and world. —Kayla

Photographs by Cur8able

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Comfort Zone: Ness Lee

Comfort Zone: Ness Lee

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Although self-expression is the hallmark of Illustrator/Artist Ness Lee‘s artistic work, it’s also at the heart of her greatest fear. No matter the medium, be it ceramic or pencil on paper, Ness views her process as a way to preserve and commemorate her emotions, but despite her ability to translate feelings into art, getting them across in her relationships and daily life is a worry that follows Ness. Being misunderstood is an unpleasant theme of her life, but also what makes her art so powerful.

As someone who constantly feels burdened with heavy thoughts, home is her greatest relief and energy source. Directly above a burger joint and a Souvlaki restaurant in Toronto’s downtown core, her apartment is a haven of freedom. Located in a hub of constant and overwhelming stimulation from the city below, coming home is often therapeutic for Ness. Her living room becomes more than just a cozy corner — it’s the only space she can think and feel freely in, unwinding and clearing her head. Sharing her thoughts is something Ness comes by naturally, and today, she’s joining us to do just that: chatting more about her artistic process, the perils of modern adulthood, and how she’s combatting her fears with the power of positive thinking. –Sabrina

Photography by Nancy Zhang

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A Global Art Exhibition at Home in Brooklyn

A Global Art Exhibition at Home in Brooklyn, on Design*Sponge

A Global Art Exhibition at Home in Brooklyn

Peering out across the street from Nasozi Kakembo and seven-year-old son Rafayonda Kalungi’s top-floor apartment just so happens to offer a view of the high school attended by entertainer Lena Horne. Though it’s not yet of much significance to her young child, Nasozi cherishes the daily reminder of her Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn neighborhood’s historical significance. With a background in architecture, art history, and urban planning, Nasozi is the creative director of her own home textile company xnasozi. “My work is influenced in equal parts by my Ugandan heritage and my American upbringing and education,” she shares. Nasozi has called the borough home for a decade, and this apartment hers for seven-and-a-half of those years. Having traveled widely throughout the world, she relishes learning about the many cultures around her, proud to live in “Brooklyn, home to one of the highest concentrations of ethnic diversity in the world.” However luckily within that vast local population, Nasozi quickly discovered a cousin just blocks away, and with that revelation came many new friends. “It felt so good living in a community that was so culturally vibrant and proud,” she adds. “This has always been home in New York and I know most of my neighbors, young and old.”

Having lived in her place for a relatively long time (by city standards), Nasozi has had ample opportunity to tease out how best the space works for her. The current living room had been, until more recently, functioning well enough as her bedroom. Many of the home’s nooks and crannies need to serve new purposes for a growing kid, and most areas do double duty. Upon closer inspection, almost all of the decorative elements in the home are functional in practical ways, too. “It’s also really important to me to have images and reminders of our family and heritage around the home, mainly for the benefit of my son,” Nasozi says.”Living in one of the most global cities in the world doesn’t inherently dictate a global and empathetic worldview, but that is what I am trying to foster in him every step of the way… My home is basically a rotating art exhibition.” Over time, Nasozi has collected many heirloom and otherwise special pieces from family, amassed a collection of photographs of her travels, and thoughtfully displayed these treasures around the home. “That is one thing I love the most about living in a small space. It forces you to live simpler and more deliberately.” —Annie

Photography by Nasozi Kakembo

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