Twice a year, the D*S team takes a break and puts away its laptops for a week. Starting tomorrow, we’ll be closing up shop until January 2nd, so I thought it would be fitting to end this year with a look back at our favorite posts from 2012. From amazing homes and DIY projects to makeovers, recipes, flowers and products, our team has chosen our favorite four to five posts from each category on the site (including Biz Ladies, Living In, New Products and Entertaining) and posted them here with images and links. If you find yourself with some extra couch time over the holiday break and need a little visual inspiration, I hope you’ll enjoy these posts as much as we did. Thanks so much to our incredible team for taking the time to mull through thousands of posts to pick their favorites. Enjoy! xo, grace
The full post continues after the jump . . .
Best of: Sneak Peeks (Chosen by Amy)
My top five are certainly indicative of the sneak peeks we’ve seen this year: lots of white and homes from all over the world. Here we have two Australian homes, plus homes in Tunisia, Brooklyn and Norway. My prediction for 2013? White isn’t going anywhere. — Amy Azzarito
This home (above) was probably my absolute favorite of the year. Victoria Reppert has worked as a Foreign Service officer with the State Department for the past seven years. Each time she’s reassigned, she’s challenged to create a home out of the utilitarian furniture provided by the Foreign Service, plus the limited amount of possessions she’s allowed to bring on each assignment. This home is in La Marsa, Tunisia. Victoria packed it up right after we ran this post and headed to Baghdad, where’s she stationed for the next year. Best of luck, Victoria! (See the full home tour at Sneak Peek: Victoria Reppert, and I also love the home of Annabelle’s Fête Magazine co-founder Jane Cameron.)
Annabelle Kerslake’s work as a floral and event stylist is certainly highlighted in her Adelaide Hills, South Australia home. The house is actually a converted barn on 15 acres of property. (Annabelle shares it with her husband, three-year-old daughter, two dogs and show horses). With mostly white walls, white ceiling and white floors, this home certainly exemplifies the white trend we’ve been seeing lately, and I just love how elegantly it all comes together. (See the full home tour at Sneak Peek: Annabelle Kerslake.)
The Brooklyn home that Ariele Alasko shares with her boyfriend, Isaiah Palmer, is proof that you don’t need to wait for everything to be right before creating the life you want. Ariele may have lived in a tiny rental, but she had dreams of being a wood worker, so she partitioned a section of the living and got right down to business. Her home is filled with little touches that she created. Since this peek, Ariele moved into a real studio (and we featured that right here), so she now has a little more space to spread out at home. (See the full home tour at Sneak Peek: Ariele Alasko and Isaiah Palmer.)
Another home with lots of white makes it into the top 5. I loved how, even though illustrator Paula Mills’ home has lots of white, it’s certainly not boring. I love the fun touches throughout, like the washi tape pink star next to the fireplace. (See the full home tour at Sneak Peek: Paula Mills & Family.)
There is something so serene about Marte Marie Forsberg’s home on a beautiful island on the Oslo fjord in Norway. One of my favorite details of this home is the birch staircase designed by Marte’s mother that pulls double duty as a closet. (See the full home tour at Sneak Peek: Marte Marie Forsberg.)
Best of: DIY Projects (Chosen by Kate)
Sculptural Copper Vases: I love how simple these are to make and how elegant they look alone or in a cluster.
Paper Clay Barnacles: Brenna’s paper clay barnacles are such a clever use of recycled materials. The paper clay is a sturdy, workable material that’s inexpensive to make, and these barnacles can be customized in lots of interesting ways.
Leather Lunch Tote: Matt’s leather lunchbox project is genius. It’s a clean, efficient design that will look great and last forever.
Recycled Paper Basket: To make this woven basket, Brett used the leftover packing material from her shipping boxes to create sturdy sewn paper strips. I love the look of the paper and thread, and these baskets are an awesome reuse of a cheap material.
Scrap Wood Phone Stand: I threw this one together using scrap wood in my studio, and it turned out to be one of my favorite projects this year. It’s simple and easy, and the jolt of hot pink on my desk never fails to cheer me up.
DIY Mountain Pillow: A great idea from Merilee’s gift series.
Best of: Before & Afters (Chosen by Kate)
Salvaged Wood Bar: This was one of the biggest wow moments in our Before & After column this year. I just love the beautiful mix of different woods and the overall rustic look.
Ombre Stairs: These ombre pink stairs are so fun and clever, and they reminded me that there are so many areas in our homes that we take for granted and that can really pop if we give them a little creative spin.
Modern Bungalow Reno: This modern bungalow renovation is simply gorgeous from top to bottom. Every decision is thoughtful, and the attention to materials really shows in the end result. I want to live here.
Bathroom Makeover with Wall of Mirrors: I love the wall of mirrors in this bathroom makeover. It’s a great example of how to make a dramatic statement without spending a fortune — a simple curated collection of vintage mirrors works wonders for this space.
Bathroom Makeover with Yellow Tub: I love this bathroom redo, not only because the “after” is beautiful, but also because the floral treatment in the “before” is quite amusing. There are even roses on the tub!
Best of: Living In (Chosen by Max)
Harriet the Spy: I couldn’t make a best of Living In post without including the roundup for Harriet the Spy, one of my all-time favorite movies! I had so much fun seeking complements to Harriet’s fun style. It really brought back memories!
Auntie Mame: Auntie Mame has got to be one of the funniest and most stylish movies ever made. The set designers for the film really outdid themselves with Mame’s constantly changing home decor.
Chocolat: Chocolat is one of those perfect feel-good movies that you can watch on a rainy day to cheer yourself up. Just watching Juliette Binoche dole out ancient wisdom alongside hot chocolate makes you feel warm, fuzzy and in desperate need of sweets. Our readers certainly agree because this was one of the most commented-on Living Ins of the year!
Twin Peaks: Twin Peaks is having quite the resurgence recently, and it’s no wonder! Creator David Lynch’s trademark style makes for some truly memorable TV (and Living In posts).
Downton Abbey: If there’s one contemporary television show that was just screaming for a Living In, it’s Downtown Abbey. The set design on Julian Fellowes’ hit period drama is just one of the reasons we can’t stop watching!
Best of: Entertaining (Chosen by Max)
Back To School Party: I love the Back-To-School excitement that comes with September and the beginning of fall, and I think this party, one of my first at Design*Sponge, really shows it. I almost had too much fun making all the decorations for this fabulous throwback party.
Halloween Invites: Halloween is probably my favorite holiday to decorate for because it lends itself so well to so many different themes and ideas. This post features two different takes on a Halloween invite: one with bones and one with blood!
Spartan Thanksgiving Table: Every single one of the designer contributions to our Thanksgiving Table feature this year was absolutely fabulous, but my personal favorite would have to be the table styled by Spartan. Staying true to their name, the Spartan owners styled a minimal yet completely warm and inviting table for Thanksgiving — a refreshing alternative to the overflowing maximalism typical to Thanksgiving decor.
Wax Paper Candleholders: These candleholders for electric tea lights are beautiful and incredibly easy to make. I love how they look against a dark wall or in a dimly lit room.
Best of: Recipes (Chosen by Kristina)
Rohan Anderson’s Jamon Rabbit Roast with Boozy Asparagus: Because he makes all of his food himself, from foraging, planting, hunting and curing.
Dani Fisher’s Matzoh: Because it’s a package deal — the styling, the photography by Matt Armendariz and the enthusiasm of the bio pic. It all comes together to prove that this simple snack is THE BOMB!
Matkonation’s Perfect Schnitzel: I could eat this once a week!
Kevin Buckley’s Lemon Chili Marmalade: Unique and unexpected
Annette Joseph’s Blood Orange and Basil Gimlet: LOVE the basil syrup. So delicate, so nice.
Pharmacie’s 1966 Cosmopolitan: The raspberry tincture made this fabulous. My fave of the year.
Best of: Biz Ladies (Chosen by Stephanie)
How to Evaluate Google and AdWords: For someone who is just jumping into the online ad realm, it can be a bit overwhelming. I think Veronica laid out an easy-to-comprehend method for finding the right services and asking the right questions, which is always appreciated.
3 Big Lies That Could Be Holding Back Your Business: I have personally, on more than one occasion, squashed a business idea due to these very lies. So to hear Tara pinpoint these lies that we can all relate to and then break them apart to speak the truth was extremely inspiring and motivating.
Work/Life Balance (mp3): This special After the Jump Biz Ladies podcast from Grace really struck a chord with me. For years now, I have struggled with finding a healthy balance, and more so, truly figuring out what kind of balance works best for me. This podcast was like cold water to the face, waking me up to my reality. It’s an ongoing process, but this post kickstarted my personal movement toward balance.
Making an “I Don’t” List: For anyone who struggles with truly pursuing your passions, this post is a must-read. Brigitte lays out a step-by-step exercise to get into the passion-pursuing state of mind and finally take the steps to your “dream” careers. If nothing else, this post is a great motivator for brainstorming some future possibilities.
How to Escape the Comparison Trap: I think this is one post to which we can all say “we’ve been there” (related to business or other). The simplest of comparisons can sometimes creep into our otherwise positive and goal-oriented stream of consciousness and flub up everything. Becka’s post was not only a wonderful read, but also a great call to action to stop comparing ourselves to others and start showcasing our true selves.
Best of: City Guides (Chosen by Stephanie)
Athens, GA City Guide: For so long, I have been dying to visit the South. It’s one of the only regions in the US that I have yet to see. This Athens, GA guide just reaffirmed my yearning to see Georgia, and I loved how the authors, Alyssa and Natasha, included fellow D*S contributors in the “notable locals” section!
Ubud, Bali, Indonesia City Guide: I have been planning to visit Bali since my senior year in high school. It was a dream to go to Indonesia straight from my graduation ceremony for a summer of travel. Several other big trips have come and gone since then, but when this guide came to me a few months back — with those amazing pictures — it got me looking at tickets once again.
Buffalo, NY City Guide: The newest member of our D*S team, Max, asked to contribute a guide on his hometown of Buffalo, NY, and boy did he deliver! This has to be one of the most comprehensive guides I’ve ever published, and with some of the best images, too. Whether traveling to Buffalo or not, I would give it a read.
Long Beach, CA Guide: As a SoCal resident for more than 18 years (give or take some college and job moves), I thought I knew this area pretty well. So who knew that Sharon’s Long Beach guide would prove me terribly wrong? I remember that the day this guide went up, I had already planned a weekend afternoon of visiting my new finds in the LBC.
Best of: After the Jump (Chosen by Grace)
For me, the highlight of 2012, aside from getting to work with my fellow teammates for another year, was getting to realize my dream of having a real radio show. After eight years of blogging in short-form digital snippets, I longed to have a place to talk about deeper issues in a more personal and (slightly more) long-format way. This show gave me the chance to feel truly challenged again and pushed me to get past my fear of interviewing people and to embrace the opportunity to talk about issues that matter to me and my community and to meet some of my biggest idols in person. Thank you to everyone who listened this year. I truly appreciate your support.
The Top 10 Lessons I’ve Learned from D*S: This show gave me a chance to look back at what I’ve worked through this year and all the life (and work) lessons that came with it. I enjoy sharing mistakes as well as achievements, so there’s plenty here from which to learn.
Alexandra Lange: A design critic who’s had a fascinating take on our community (good and bad), including my own site. I love getting a chance to talk about things that are bad as well as good; it was a nice chance to be honest about wanting to push the creative community forward in some way.
Being Your Brand: This is, numbers wise, the most successful show I did all year. I have learned a lot from managing D*S, and along with Amy Azzarito, I spoke from the heart about becoming a brand associated primarily with one person — both the ups and downs.
Lorena Siminovich: If there’s one single business woman I look up to most, it’s Lorena. Endlessly energetic and full of “can do” spirit, she’s amazing.
Work/Life Balance: This show was hard, but ultimately very cathartic for me. Learning from my utter lack of personal life and trying to move forward to a place where things are balanced, I explained my mistakes, the things I’d lost because of working too much, the ways I hoped to change and systems I put in place to keep it that way.
GB Tran: GB’s amazing Vietnamerica book is an illustrated look at his family’s escape from Vietnam to America. It’s quite simply stunning. I could listen to his insight all day.
Tina Shoulders: Tina and I talked about diversity in design — the importance of having it, the lack thereof right now and the ways we can all try to improve it. This was personally a very important show for me because I wanted to change being part of the problem and work on becoming part of the solution.
Best of: Flowers (Chosen by Grace)
Past & Present Constance Spry: The influence for so many contemporary floral designers we love. I loved this post and the illustrations Julia Rothman made for it.
DIY Hostess Bouquet: I love this idea! Executed so perfectly by our new floral writers, Forêt.
Sound Garden Songs in the Key of Life: This new column (flowers inspired by album covers) was such a fun one, and this arrangement was my favorite of Sarah’s.
Outside In Valentine’s Day: Amy Merrick at her finest.
Outside In Hellebores: Ditto. Amy rules.
Wild Love: Vada and Thomas J. A sweet, innocent arrangement inspired by My Girl. MK really nailed this one, cut-off shorts and all.
Best of: Products (Chosen by Grace)
Products will always be my first love. More than anything, I love the finished product that you get to love and admire. I’m terrible at space planning, but boy can I pick a cute object. One day I’ll find a way to master both skills, but for now, I’ll keep loving all of these amazing products that came out this year. — Grace
(Clockwise from top left) Cat Nap Pillowcases: Adorable and a must-have for crazy cat people everywhere. | Amsterdam Modern’s Swing Arm Lamp: This now lives in my home, and I love it so much. | Carson Ellis at Nationale: I love her work beyond words. | Elke Kramer: Favorite packaging of the year, hands down. | Knife in the Water Textiles: So colorful and organic at the same time. | Linda + Harriet 2013 Quilt Calendar: Huge, neon, perfect.
(Clockwise from top) Romantic Collection Knobs: My one nod to girly English style. Normally not my thing, but I loved these. | Shanna Murray Glitter Cards: Swoooon + Bows | Brass Himmeli Everything from AM Radio: The AM Radio shop is my favorite page on Etsy, hands down. | Modern Beaded Planter: Yep, she makes these, too. All hail, Melissa from AM Radio. | Ben Fiess Ceramics: I love these little gems of color. Helen Dealtry Scarves: It was the year of art scarves, and I loved it.
Japanese Paper Beach Balls: Not new to 2012, but new to me this year. My favorite take-home treat from SF.
Invisible Bike Helmet: GENIUS + so beautiful.
(Clockwise from top left) My Lubok Verlag Bag and all the pieces it inspired. | Kaleido Trays: Color + Geometry = right on trend for 2012. | Proud Mary’s Guatemala collection: All the color and tassels- heaven. | Tuesday Bassen’s blue painted ceramics: She gave my rescue kitten a good home and makes awesome ceramics to boot. | Everything geometric at Sight Unseen’s Shop: They nailed the geo trend so well. | Wsake: I love these faceted gems for plants (and arms). | Karolin Schnoor Cards: I loved these gilded beauties. | Alyson Fox’s Rugs for West Elm: A smart pairing between a big brand and a talented indie designer.
Phantograms: 3D nature book! My favorite Brooklyn shop find this year.
Constellation Mania! My favorite trend of the year :)
Fancy Stamp Ring: From Kickstarter to real life, this little guy is adorable.
(Clockwise from top left) Geometric Nails: Inspired us to try our own line of hardware, which we’re still testing out. I love these guys so much. | Doug Johnston Bags: These awesome rope bags have spawned imitators, but Doug’s are the original real deal. Beautiful in person and super durable. | Matthew Shlian Paper Art: This guy is GOOD. | Bec Brittain Lighting: This is the futuristic spaceship of lighting designs, and I love it. | Alexandra Valenti’s artwork: Like a super trippy version of real life. | Phillip Low Geometric Artwork: The trend at its finest, in fine art form. | Colorblocked Cutting Boards: These are gorgeous online and in real life.
Halona Glass: I bought three of these hanging pieces on a total rampage. I looove them.
Clare Grill: Probably my favorite painter we’ve ever covered on the site.