24 Hours in Saint Paul, Minnesota

24 Hours in Saint Paul, Minnesota

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Often referred to as “St. Small,” today’s City Guide takes us to the capital of Minnesota — Saint Paul — which, although a large metropolis, still boasts a small-town feel. “Everyone seems to be connected in some way,” Erica Dao, the writer of today’s guide, remarks. “The laid-back vibe is apparent and appreciated.” Filled with friendly locals, historic charm and endearing, tree-lined streets, Saint Paul’s Mac-Groveland neighborhood has been home to Erica for nearly a decade, and to her husband Dave for most of his life.

Despite having traveled to many fantastic states, the couple always draws the same conclusion: that “St. Paul is where it’s at.” With a bustling arts and culture scene and plenty of bike paths that overlook the Mississippi River, summers are paradise — and in the winter, St. Paul’s Winter Carnival is worth braving the cold for. In between, Erica and Dave love exploring masterpieces at the St. Paul Art Crawl or grabbing a cone at Izzy’s Ice Cream. From old school supper clubs to new school eateries, there’s never a shortage of tasty choices. Today, with help from her husband, Erica has put together a guide encompassing her ideal 24 hours in this great city, saying, “We are pretty much enamored with the capital of Minnesota and think you will be, too.” –Sabrina

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Comfort Zone: Kiel Wuellner

Comfort Zone: Kiel Wuellner

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Being open to change has been a regular theme in Kiel Wuellner‘s life — although, it hasn’t always been that way. Growing up in Minnesota, Kiel shied away from his uniqueness, constantly trying to become someone he wasn’t. It wasn’t until his mother’s sudden passing when he was in college that he truly found his voice and learned to appreciate who he was. He began to surround himself with positive people who celebrated him, and his active pursuit to better his life and achieve happiness is something that continues to drive him to this day.

Since he was a teenager, a lot has changed in Kiel’s life: He packed up his life, chased his career, and he now lives in New York’s Chelsea / Flat Iron neighborhood with this partner, Matthew, and their miniature Boston Terrier, Rufus. He works as a creative director by day, and an interior designer under the name Even Kiel by night. His manifesto caters to budget-conscious city-dwellers who still crave beautiful spaces, something which he personally knows a thing or two about. Between his former 300-square-foot space (which he shared with us last year) and his new 800-square-foot space, Kiel has had to become his own client at times, a challenge which he happily accepts.

Facing the Manhattan skyline, Kiel’s apartment is layered with furniture and decor both new and old, including pieces from his childhood and quirky, secondhand finds. Just as he applies to his own life, no corner or nook is overlooked, and today, from the sanctuary of his living room, Kiel is joining us to open up and share more about what inspires and energizes him, and what struggles he continues to face. –Sabrina

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A Stylist’s Vintage Hotel Home in Vancouver

A Stylist's Vintage Hotel Home in Vancouver, on Design*Sponge

A Stylist’s Vintage Hotel Home in Vancouver

By Vancouver, Canada standards, the 1911 converted hotel building where Kendra Murphy lives is a rare antique. She enjoys thinking about the similarities and differences between the lives lived in the rental apartment before she and partner Will took up residence a year and a half ago, and their own. For one thing, Kendra runs her styling studio, online shop, and blog Kit + Forage out of the flat, with enough room for an inventory of vintage homewares and the textiles she designs in the 625-square-foot space. Also dissimilarly from previous tenants, Kendra found the West End neighborhood spot through Instagram, after seeing pretty glimpses of a friend’s place in the building and reaching out to the property manager. She didn’t even step foot in her own unit until move-in day, but was relieved to find that settling in amongst its classic features with modern updates was ultimately worth the risk. The older building, as one might expect, retains some interesting features. Both the bedroom and living room have roll-away beds that recede into the walls. Visitors often discover unique quirks for themselves as they come through.

For their part, some of the furniture pieces the couple arrived with came from Will’s family, and others Kendra built with her dad. The personal touches that have accumulated over time — like the decorative dishes and artwork, or the plants still thriving in the bright sunlight — feel like physical memories scattered around their environment. Unable to keep any secrets in the small space, Kendra and Will can’t hold onto things they don’t want to look at every day. Each corner of the apartment gets used, and often serves multiple purposes. Because Kendra runs her business from home, it needs to be functional for work and supporting all facets of her and Will’s lives; someplace in which they would be equally as happy working or relaxing. To Kendra, it’s the perfect hideaway perched above all the excitement of downtown. —Annie

Photography by Gillian Stevens

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Minimal, Small-Space Living for A Growing Family

The table was found on Craigslist (originally from Design Within Reach) and the molded chairs are from HAY Design. The family painted the small section of wall that separates Theo's bedroom and the bathroom with black chalkboard paint.

Minimal, Small-Space Living for A Growing Family

In Alison and Trevor’s home, there is only room for what’s truly important — literally. The couple, who welcomed their first child Theo into the world in 2013, live within 600 humble square feet. Their condo in Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant neighborhood has been home for over six years, and although many urged them to find a place that offered more space when they became pregnant with their son, Alison and Trevor couldn’t imagine leaving. “Instead, we decided to stay and make our small space that we love work for us,” Alison explains; a journey which she documented on her blog, 600 Square Feet and a Baby.

Knowing they were welcoming a third family member was a bit daunting, but what began as a trial turned into the shift in perspective that forever changed their outlook. “I was so nervous to try…” Alison begins, “[but] to our surprise, what began as an experiment has changed into a way of life and we are loving living small in the city with a toddler.” Instead of focusing on what they don’t have, they instead view the entire city as their backyard. Steps from cute shops, restaurants, great coffee, breweries and parks, their space boasts high ceilings, large windows and an open floor plan. Although they couldn’t imagine being anywhere else, the family did undergo some renovations to make the home more livable as Theo grows. Alison shares, “When [he] was about 6 months old, we invested in a Wall Bed that we installed in a nook in our living room and gave up our bedroom to him.” The couple also removed the butcher block kitchen island and replaced it with an extendable dining table to function better at regular meal times and when hosting friends and family. These changes — combined with Alison’s heavily-curated furniture pieces — keep the apartment feeling spacious, bright, comfortable and uncluttered. “A benefit of owning less things is that we can make sure we really love the things we do have,” Alison says. “Every chair, lamp or book takes on a special meaning when you only have a little space.”

Their space continues to be a work in progress and they are constantly evaluating their belongings and asking questions such as “Do I love this piece?”, “Do I find it useful and beautiful?”, “If I was shopping for this today, would I still buy this same one?” Despite furniture and things being called into question constantly, there are some permanent changes they wish they could make, namely the addition of clothing storage. With 11-foot ceilings and four seasons in Vancouver, Alison says, “I would love to extend our closets with custom doors to take advantage of all the overhead storage space [as] we end up with a lot of coats, shoes and gear.”

For the family, it’s all about being happy with less. “Living in our home keeps our priorities in check,” Alison shares. “We love that there is only room for what’s most important,” and at the heart of that is family which, as it turns out, is growing. The couple is happy and excited to announce that they are expecting their second child this summer, and when asked if they plan to stay in their humble abode, Alison replied, “Yes… I am excited for the challenge of changing our home again to accommodate two little ones. I hope it will be an [exercise] in what is really important, and l hope we can do it with beauty and grace!” –Sabrina

Photography by Mary and Joel of Blue Window Creative

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Fine Art Focus: Malu Stewart

Fine Art Focus: Malu Stewart

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One of the most meaningful lessons I ever learned in college was to study traditions and rules first, in order to question — and possibly break — them later. My fine art teachers were always steadfast in teaching us the ins and outs of classic techniques and the canonical artists we would be expected to know. But they were also great at showing us ways to subvert those traditions, question the reasons behind certain rules, and explore the ways we could insert ourselves into the age-old discussion of what art is. Ever since those days, I’ve had a great love for artists who question and examine the “establishment” of fine art, like Malu Stewart.

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Image above: Pipe cleaner detail

Malu is a Chilean artist who studied at home and in London and found herself drawn toward Impressionist artists like Claude Monet. But rather than merely admiring those artists’ work, she set out to reinterpret it using everyday materials like paste and pipe cleaners. Her equally stunning pieces highlight the connection between craft and fine art, and make us look a little more deeply at the way we choose to elevate some types of art and relegate others to a different realm. I was so taken with her pieces before knowing what humble materials they were comprised of — and now that I understand how much work went into recreating them, I’m even more impressed. Read on below to learn more about Malu’s work. xo, grace

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Artist: Malu Stewart
About: Malu was born in Santiago, Chile in 1962. She received her BA from the Universidad Católica de Chile and her MFA from the The Slade School of Fine Art in London. Her work has been shown across the world in galleries and museums.
Work: Malu’s most recent work focuses on the connection between everyday materials and formal/classic European artwork. By interpreting classic works of art from artists like Monet in pipe cleaners and paste, she asks the viewer to consider the traditional canon of “great artists” and the relationship between craft and fine art.
More: You can read more about Malu here, here, here and here.

All artwork (c) Malu Stewart. Images via Berloni Gallery and House of Propellers

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Farrow & Ball Celebrates Their 70th Anniversary with New Colors

New Color 1: Shadow White No. 282. For devotees of lighter neutrals on both walls and woodwork, this color is the perfect contrast to the slightly darker Shaded White.

Farrow & Ball Celebrates Their 70th Anniversary with New Colors

For color and paint enthusiasts, today is a special day. Farrow & Ball, the esteemed English paint and wallpaper company, is launching a collection of new colors. They happen to be celebrating their 70th anniversary this year — they were founded in 1946 by paint pioneers John Farrow and Richard Ball — so it’s fitting that nine new colors make their way into the esteemed collection.

Since the brand only launches new colors every two to three years, we were thrilled to be able to preview the additions to their carefully chosen, 132-color lineup. The sumptuous paint colors are made using high levels of rich pigments with original recipes developed in the 1940s. We love that the company maintains their longstanding production techniques, but has tweaked their formulas to meet the demands of modern times and homes by producing Zero VOC and low-odor paints that are suitable for all spaces. When you peek through the Design*Sponge Sneak Peek home tours archives, there are a few trusted resources that show up time after time — one of the most frequent being gorgeous Farrow & Ball painted rooms.

Their edited palette of 132 colors (and the stories behind each one) showcases enduringly popular neutrals like “Pointing” and “Wimborne White,” bold statement hues such as “Charlotte’s Locks” or “Hague Blue,” and everything in between. We have more than a few copies of their color cards, which come with an Inspiration Booklet that shows their colors at work in homes. (You can get your own here.) There’s just something so compelling about the history of each and every color combined with the longstanding bespoke quality of the Farrow & Ball paints and wallpapers created in a distinctly British tradition.

Back in 2014, we had the pleasure of interviewing Charlotte Cosby, Head of Creative at Farrow & Ball. Charlotte has the unique duty of accessing some of history’s most beautiful colors and repurposing them for modern use. Since its establishment in Dorset in 1946, Farrow & Ball has gained a reputation as one of the world’s top purveyors of historically-derived paint colors and patterns; their swatch book is the basis for numerous historic home and interior restorations around the globe.

See the new colors in the slideshow above. There is an addition neutral not shown (Drop Cloth No.283) which can be seen on the Farrow & Ball website. —Caitlin

P.S. Farrow & Ball’s wallpapers are handcrafted using their own paints and traditional printing methods. You can see their printing process in action in our 10 Second Studio tour here.

F&B-LogoThis post is brought to you by Farrow & Ball, makers of unparalleled paint and wallpaper that transform homes around the world. See their ranges here.

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A Day In The Life of Amelia The Hedgehog + Best Of The Web

A bit about hedgehogs from Sophia (in case anyone is inspired to add one to their family after this story!):  Hedgehogs live off a diet of (high protein, low fat) cat food and sleep in cages with wood shavings like rabbits. Hedgehogs are nocturnal, so make sure you have extra space for them in your house as they are quite noisy at night. They are originally from Africa so it is important to keep your hog warm during winter as they run the risk of going into hibernation, which they are not prepared for. Sophia suggests getting your hedgehog at an early age and meeting them in person before making the purchase. Hedgehogs are solitary and curious creatures and with time, patience, and creativity they are very fun to have around!

For more info check out the Hedgehog Welfare Society

A Day In The Life of Amelia The Hedgehog + Best Of The Web

There are very few things (maybe nothing) that lift me up like animals do. Whether it’s a rough day, week or month, it’s hard to stay too sad when you have a furry friend by your side. So whether it’s watching this video over and over or delving into one of my favorite animal feeds on Instagram, I love heading into the weekend with a little pick-me-up. And today, that pick-me-up is a fuzzy feeling we can all take with us, courtesy of Amelia the Hedgehog. I discovered her feed through our #DSPetStyle challenge and have been hooked ever since. Amelia and her mom, Sophia (a photographer based in Vancouver), are sharing with us a day in their lives. Get ready for some cute overload. Until Monday, here’s wishing you all a safe and happy weekend. xo, grace

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In the Kitchen With: Danielle Chang’s Nasi Goreng

In the Kitchen With: Danielle Chang’s Nasi Goreng

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When I learned that Danielle Chang, founder of LUCKYRICE and host of Lucky Chow, had just released a new cookbook called Lucky Rice, I knew I wanted to share something of hers here. Danielle is an ardent advocate of both Asian culture and Asian food culture. This week, as a treat, we have two recipes — perfect steamed rice and nasi goreng, or Indonesian fried rice. The former is a dish all passionate cooks should be able to make, and the second is simply addictive; the spicier the better. If you make any variations on this nasi goreng, let us know! —Kristina

About Danielle: Danielle is the founder of the LUCKYRICE festival, a national celebration of Asian cultures and cuisines that has taken place in more than seven cities, including New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. She is also the host and creator of Lucky Chow, a PBS series about Asian food culture in America. Born in Taipei, Danielle lives with her family in New York.

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Before & After: A Fixer-Upper Gets a New Kitchen in Denver, CO

Before & After: A Fixer Upper Home Gets a New Kitchen | Design*Sponge

Before & After: A Fixer-Upper Gets a New Kitchen in Denver, CO

Anna and Austin Smith knew there would be work to do when they bought this fixer-upper, sight unseen, in Denver, CO. Anna‘s interior design career made the opportunity even more appealing — she wanted to get her hands dirty. From the moment the couple put an offer in on the home, Anna was designing and dreaming about how to transform the kitchen from dark, cramped and dated to bright, open and modern.

When they moved in six months ago, they got to work. Austin and Anna did everything other than the electrical and plumbing themselves. While problems did arise during demo (asbestos in the walls!), Anna and Austin took it all in stride and stuck to the vision in their heads: a beautiful new kitchen. “What we love most about our space is that we created it ourselves! We’ve never tackled anything like this before, and we learned so many new skills along the way — for instance, I now know how to frame a window, mud drywall, and lay flooring, whereas before my home skills were limited to hanging a picture on the wall or changing a lightbulb,” Anna says. “It’s amazing what you can accomplish from Googling and watching YouTube videos — or even asking your neighbors! I think it’s really added to my knowledge as a designer because I understand the labor and skill that goes into remodeling, firsthand.”

The result of their hard work and long hours spent on the renovation is a dream — marble countertops, hexagon tiles (all installed by the couple), gorgeous new fixtures and a green eat-in bar. “In our new home, I’m trying to stick to a tight, neutral palette with warm accents like brass and wood, and the kitchen is no exception,” Anna shares. “We love the simplicity and clean lines that the white cabinets and marble countertops afford, along with subtle details like the white hexagon backsplash with brass trim.” Now that the first project in this fixer-upper is completed, we can’t wait to see what Anna and Austin do with the rest of their home. –Lauren

Photography by Chandler Kim

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Fine Art Focus: Magdalena Atria

Fine Art Focus: Magdalena Atria

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For the past few weeks, I’ve been dealing with some not-so-fun health issues that I’ve been working with doctors to figure out. I don’t have a full diagnosis yet, so my life right now feels like one long string of tests, imaging and scans. Looking at your own body and organs that way can be pretty disconcerting, but I’ve been trying hard to keep my head up and find ways to see it all as informative, rather than scary. And oddly enough, this week I found an artist whose work is making me see the beauty in some of the scans and tests I’ve been doing.

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Magdalena Atria is a remarkable Chilean artist who often focuses on abstractions of the human body in her work. Her hyper-colored pieces, like the one above, remind me of beautifully reimagined brain scans from another planet. Or a cabbage that’s been cut in half. Either way, they make me think about health in a good way. Beyond her work related to the human body, I love the way that Magdalena works with incredibly bright colors and applies them to inanimate objects — like rocks, baskets and architectural structures — to create these bold moments of contrast. I could look at her work all day. Read on to learn more about her work below. xo, grace

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Artist: Magdalena Atria
About: Magdalena was born in Santiago, Chile in 1966. She received her MFA from Parsons in 1997 and her BA in 1989 from the Universidad Católica de Chile.
Work: Texture, color and the human body play huge roles in Magdalena’s work. She says, “Some constants in my work are the tension between the rational and the emotional, the collective and the personal, the real and the ideal, the formal and the symbolic. I explore these notions through different mediums — painting, drawing, sculpture and photography — always with a particular emphasis on the materials and processes I utilize.”
More: You can read more about Magdalena’s work here, here and here.

All work (c) Magdalena Atria. Images via abstractioninaction and artealdia

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Before & After: A Fun and Affordable Treasure Hunt

Before & After: A Fun and Affordable Treasure Hunt, on Design*Sponge

Before & After: A Fun and Affordable Treasure Hunt

Floral designer and prop stylist Frances Harjeet isn’t afraid to use a little – or a lot – of color in her decorating. This small apartment in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Denver, CO features tons of her signature saturated blues, which we couldn’t get enough of in A Victorian Home With Countless Treasures. Spending less than $8,000 on a revamp consisting of new paint, hardware, furniture, and finishing touches, Frances had a blast getting crafty while making the space feel fully styled. “It was an excuse to do some epic thrifting and Craiglisting,” she says. “I love to treasure hunt, and this project gave me a good reason to scout all around town for fun and affordable pieces.”

The 1912 Italianate building with interior Craftsman detailing gave Frances the perfect jumping-off point for composing an eclectic mix of the things she covets. Wanting to create an inspired and relaxing space with boho touches, Frances found opportunities around the home to showcase the character and cultural offerings unique to Denver. Playing cards, coloring books, and board games in the apartment offer some homeward-bound diversion, while lots of magazines for reading on a comfy velvet loveseat make spending time indoors refreshing. Just three blocks away from an art museum, the apartment pays its respects with handmade touches and art books scattered about, too. Frances welcomes guests with open arms, and is happy to see them enjoy the made-over pad just as much as they enjoy exploring her beloved home town. —Annie

Photography by Tara Bielecki

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Shop Tour: A Stroll Through India’s Serendipity Delhi

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Shop Tour: A Stroll Through India’s Serendipity Delhi

You may remember Serendipity Delhi from our recent roundup of Inspiring Indian Instagram Feeds. I’m sure the shop’s melange of delicately-draped clothing and luxurious furniture stuck with you as much as it did me. I was so enthralled by the brand, I reached out to self-taught textile and furniture designer Kuldeep Kaur, the woman behind the remarkable store, to learn more about how it came to be.

After returning from an inspiring trip to Morocco, Kuldeep stumbled upon this old  “haveli,” a large, Indian home that surrounds a courtyard. The structure, unfortunately, was in a state of total disrepair. The courtyard was a mud pit, the once-grandiose home had been chopped up and turned into workers’ quarters, and paint was chipping off of every wall. But the bones of the structure were perfect in Kuldeep’s eyes. Behind the grime were beautiful columns, colored glass, and the opportunity to finally open a brick-and-mortar store of her own. The lucky find was a serendipitous sign; the push she needed to bring the shop to life.

Her 20 years of design experience proved invaluable when it came time to renovate. Once the clean-up crew restored the haveli back to its original splendor, Kuldeep went about adorning it with the vintage decor, reupholstered furniture and one-of-a-kind textiles Serendipity Delhi has become known for. Today, shoppers can stroll through seven open-air rooms of goods while sipping on coffee they’ve snagged from the shop’s cafe. If they’re lucky, customers may even catch one of the space’s literary or artistic events.

One day, I hope to make it to India and visit the shop. How splendid it would be to enjoy a coffee while taking in the sunny property. Until I can leave chilly Chicago behind, I’ll just have to escape through these pretty snapshots. Click through to poke around the gorgeous grounds yourself. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Serendipity Delhi

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What’s In Your Toolbox: Cláudio Silva

What’s In Your Toolbox: Cláudio Silva

What's In Your Toolbox: Cláudio Silva, on Design*Sponge

Craving the freedom to play a leading — rather than supporting — role in his own life, leather artisan Cláudio Silva started his Lisbon, Portugal-based company Project 226 in 2014 after leaving the corporate world behind. “Instead of spending my time at a desk shuffling papers, I wanted to work with my hands,” he reveals. Inspired by the apparel his seamstress mother created throughout his childhood, Cláudio had picked up some crafting skills over the years, and recognized that his ultimate dream was to shape handmade goods like bags, belts, and wallets for people interested in “knowing where they were made.”

After polishing his leather technique, the designer launched his business, the success of which depends upon inspiration taken from “daily walks discovering the old and new parts of the city,” — the opposite of his former routine. “First, my work should make me and the buyer happy, and second, it should last a lifetime.” Today, Cláudio is glad for the satisfaction, wisdom, and body of work he has amassed since setting out on his own path, and has zero remaining doubts that “we should stick to what we love and not follow trends. Make our own way.” —Annie

Photography by Cláudio Silva

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Indian Splendor

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Indian Splendor

As I have been delving deeper and deeper into trends within Indian design for this column, I’ve been excited to explore a side of modern Indian design that doesn’t get a lot of airtime: well-designed luxury.

While these goods may come with higher price tags, I feel like more of us are buying less these days and focusing on investing in speciality pieces, whether that’s from independent design studios or vintage pieces. These Indian design studios provide a visual feast of materials, jewel-like colors, blown glass, mother of pearl and all the good stuff you can imagine. These are the sorts of pieces that are definitely worth admiring and investing in when and if the time is right. –Rohini

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DIY Marbled Clay Hooks

DIY Marbled Clay Hooks

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As my necklace collection grows, I find it gets harder to organize them in an effective way. I’ve used a standing necklace tree in the past, but most of my necklaces are too long for it so they rest on the dresser and become tangled.

I’ve really liked using these DIY clay hooks instead – I hung them at the perfect height above my dresser and keep my favorite necklaces on it. Or, you can always hang it by your front door as a key rack instead. Kathleen Ballos

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