A Mix of Old and New in Charleston, SC

Erin Connelly and Brooks Reitz's Charleston, SC Home on Design*Sponge

A Mix of Old and New in Charleston, SC

Nothing makes me happier than hearing about artists and designers moving to (or staying in) the south to set up shop and be a part of the incredible communities there. There’s just something so special about what’s happening in the deep south right now, both in food and design, that is worth investing in and celebrating. I’ve loved getting to peek inside several beautiful Charleston, South Carolina homes and today, I’m thrilled to share another gorgeous Low Country home.

This 1930s craftsman belongs to Erin Connelly and Brooks Reitz, a couple that know a thing or two about great style. Erin is the co-owner of The-Commons, an incredible online shop that curates American-made goods, and Brooks is an entrepreneur who owns Jack Rudy Cocktail Co and two restaurants in Charleston, Leon’s Oyster Shop and the soon-to-open St. Alban (both of which he designed himself!). After spending many a Sunday walking through their Wagener Terrace/ North Central neighborhood, Erin and Brooks decided to start peeking into windows and yards to see if anything was for sale. They were looking for a home that was small, move-in ready and full of charm and historic details. When they stumbled upon this home four months ago, they fell in love with the cozy kitchen, clawfoot tub and the extra bedroom that was perfect for visits with Finn, Brooks’ son. While they’ve only been in their new space for a few months, they’ve already created a space that expertly mixes their love for contemporary, American-made design with pieces from their travels and treasured hand-me-downs from family. xo, grace
Photographs by Olivia Rae James

 

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25 Books to Give as Gifts This Year

25 Books to Give as Gifts This Year

Design*Sponge 2014 Gift Guide: 25 Great Books to Give as Gifts
This year was an incredible year for books. From stunning art and photography books to helpful interior design and do-it-yourself guides and delicious cookbooks, my wish list for reading this year seems to go on and on. I love giving books as gifts because they’re the gift that keeps on giving. Whether someone returns to a book to cook new recipes, consult for design advice or just be inspired again, there are endless ways to personalize books and make them something people will treasure for years to come. And if you want to add a little DIY extra to your book gift, here are a few great ideas: Free printable gemstone bookplates, DIY plaid book jackets, fabric pyramid bookends and digital bookplates (for gifting digital readers). xo, grace

*Please consider supporting independent bookstores if you can! Indiebound will let you search for any book and find the closest shop to you that stocks it. Click here to find stores near you.

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Unfolded Wallpaper Inspired by Origami

Unfolded Wallpaper Inspired by Origami

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Over the past 10 years, I’ve written about thousands of new products. Some designs come and go, but there are always a few that stick with me as truly innovative and beautiful. For me, the most memorable design that, sadly, never ended up coming to market, was Dutch designer Hannah Allijn‘s incredible origami-inspired curtain. On the surface, it looks like a flat curtain, but when pulled, it condenses like a beautifully crumpled piece of paper to let the sun in. I’ve had that design in my mind for years now, and I always get excited to see any new home good that takes its inspiration from origami. The latest is a piece that I also love, the Unfolded series of wallpaper from Sidonie Loiseleux.

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Inspired by the intricate folds of origami and the patterns it leaves behind on paper, Sidonie created five new styles that represent different folds. The finished paper is based on a photograph so it lays flat, but still has the look of texture and shadows that comes from a three dimensional piece of folded paper. White walls are sometimes a bit too sparse for me, so I love the idea of this as a spin on the look, but with a bit more detail and fun. Click here to check out the Unfolded series from Sidonie Loiseleux. xo, grace

Skye McAlpine’s Putizza Recipe

Skye McAlpine’s Putizza Recipe

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year! I was already playing my Christmas music before Thanksgiving, when I had a memory of eating a gubana, a traditional sweet bread eaten during the festivities in the Friuli region of Italy, that I tasted for the first time around Christmas here with a family in Padova. It was pure coincidence that Skye McAlpine, a freelance writer and the author of the blog From My Dining Table, suggested we enjoy a recipe for a putizza, a sweet bread with a filling of chocolate, raisins, walnuts, and Skye’s own twist – tarragon butter. Skye lives in London, but she grew up in Venice, where her family home remains. Though the putizza is not strictly a Christmas sweet, it is a Christmas morning tradition in Skye’s family. It is a beautiful sweet bread, and if you have a baking tradition in your family around the holidays, it would be a lovely addition to a party or holiday meal. Skye encourages you to use her recipe only as a guide, adapting the filling to your own tastes and whims. -Kristina

About Skye: Skye McAlpine is a freelance writer and passionate home cook. She writes the blog From My Dining Table, an online cookbook of sorts, which explores the food and hidden secrets of Venice, her hometown. When she is not cooking, eating or reading Latin love poetry (she is currently wrapping up a PhD in ancient literature), she contributes recipes to a number of online publications, including the Huffington Post. Find her on: Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.

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DIY Wreath of Boxes

DIY Wreath of Boxes

DIY Wreath of Boxes by Hank & Hunt for DesignSponge
A few boxes and a little twine is a clean and modern approach to gift wrapping, so why not use the same approach on a wreath? Black on white and a modern square shape updates the classic Christmas wreath without being too kitschy. A paired down palette is the key to freshening up your holiday décor and with such bold contrast, this wreath will fit perfectly in even the most traditional of homes. -Jenny Batt of Hank & Hunt

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20 Gifts for Food Lovers

Clockwise from top: Max Poglia's heirloom-quality utility knife, handmade using horn, brass, and repurposed steel. Momofuku Milk Bar's "Crack Pie" makes for a great hostess gift. Atlas Pepper Mill in brass. Eataly's "The Everyday Eatalian" gift set comes packed to the brim with all sorts of Italian cooking essentials.

20 Gifts for Food Lovers

I’ve always been a bit confused by the term “foodie.” Not because I don’t know what it means or I don’t believe that such people exist, but because I feel like the love of good food is universal. Unless you’re a robot, chances are you eat and make food—and you probably want it to taste great! This is why, whether you’re buying for a five-star chef or a first-time cook, good food and great tools always make great gifts. From beautiful kitchen essentials to artisanal treats from some of our favorite grocers and restaurants, these 20 gifts are sure to please the tastes (and the stomachs) of whoever they meet! —Max

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Best of IKEA + Festive Team Favorites

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Best of IKEA + Festive Team Favorites

Ever since the late 1940’s, when Ingvar Kamprad began selling flat-packed furniture under the name IKEA, the world has been absolutely hooked on the company’s accessible brand of Modernism. Today, one would be hard-pressed to find a home without at least one piece of IKEA furniture or a closet that doesn’t have one of their iconic blue and yellow totes tucked away inside. Our own homes tours frequently showcase products from the Swedish homegoods store, ingeniously reinvented for practically any style. Whether you grew up tagging along with your parents on weekend IKEA jaunts or you turned to the store for your first apartment, it seems that everybody has an IKEA story to share. Because of this, we thought it would be fun to comb through our archives to find some of our favorite examples of IKEA at home. Check out all of them, plus our own festive picks and a Swedish inspired drink recipe, after the jump!

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19 Giftable Works of Art

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19 Giftable Works of Art

Buying gifts can be one of the more nerve-racking things about the holidays. In addition to watching your pocketbook become increasingly empty, the risk of spiraling into a What-To-Buy?? state of panic and indecision is always high. However, before you stand in line at the department store obsessing over whether your aunt needs a new sweater or a dutch oven, consider that the answer to gift-giving enlightenment might be taking need out of the equation entirely. Art—whether it be a painting, a print, a textile, or a sculptural objet d’art—is the one thing that nobody needs but everybody could use. While not necessarily as traditionally functional as the coffee grinder you were considering for your sister, a beautiful painting might be just the thing to brighten up her home and her life for years to come. You may not know if your friend already has an iPad case that they like, but you know what they probably don’t already have? An awesome custom-printed pennant with their hometown on it! Indeed, even though its function is more or less intangible, art can be one of the best gifts to give. It’s something that people typically don’t buy for themselves and something that is sure to inspire and delight. Here are a few of our favorite works of art for holiday gifting! —Max

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A Bold, Black Fireplace Makeover

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A Bold, Black Fireplace Makeover

In the design world, it feels like things are always swinging from one end of the pendulum to the other. For years it seemed as if “paint it white!” was the answer to every question or problem. Our makeover folder was full of freshly painted white chairs, tables, rooms and home exteriors. Then slowly it seems we’ve swung back to “paint it black!” again and now we’re seeing more and more projects that involve painting something black- especially a bold matte black. I personally prefer a darker paint for most things (if you’re going to paint, which of course is never the only option) because it’s easier to keep clean, especially in the case of fireplace. This fireplace makeover comes from Tanya of Dans le Lakehouse. After realizing their dream of finding a home on Lake Superior, Tanya and her husband realized that it left little budget left over for major renovations. Faced with finishes they didn’t love (like this faux-stone), they decided to lean on paint to do the heavy (and affordable) lifting. I love how clean and modern the finished look is and think it’s a great alternative to white or refacing something entirely. Tanya walks us through the full makeover process after the jump! xo, grace

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The Future of Print Magazines

The Future of Print Magazines

The Future of Print Magazines on Design*Sponge Radio
As we get closer to the end of the year and the end of our radio season, I wanted to tackle one of the biggest issues in the creative community: the future of print publication. Starting in 2008, the lifestyle community saw the death of many of its most beloved publications: House & Garden, Gourmet, Domino, Blueprint, Readymade and many more. While a few have come back in less frequent forms, the industry still seems to be figuring out how to regain its foothold in a drastically changing advertising and reader world. In the meantime, a wide range of independent publications have grown and seem to be building sustainable models for print in a slightly more niche style. While there’s no way for any of us to predict the future or summarize what is clearly a complicated issue, I wanted to have a round table discussion with some of the print publications I love and trust. So yesterday I sat down with Paul Lowe and Paul Vitale of Sweet Paul Magazine, Michele Outland of Gather Journal and Janine Vangool of Uppercase Magazine (who joined us on the phone) to discuss the future of print, how to financially support it, what you need to make it work and the biggest hurdles to overcome.

Although I work online, I love print and believe it will continue to play an important role in the creative community. I think people like Paul, Janine and Michele are great examples of one way print can continue to thrive and I so appreciate their thoughts and input on the subject. I’d also love to hear YOUR thoughts. What do you think is the future of print in the lifestyle community? Do you buy magazines anymore? If so, what kind? I’m so curious to see what we can learn from each other and how best to keep supporting publications like theirs that provide high-quality inspiration and ideas in printed form. xo, grace

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

25 Gifts $100 and Under

Gifts $100 and Under at Design*Sponge

25 Gifts $100 and Under

Today marks my final price-based gift guide for the 2014 holiday season, but we have a few more guides coming up this week and next (Books, Last-min Gifts, Food- stay tuned!). For today, I rounded up beautiful gifts that are $100 and under. From lux materials like silver, copper, walnut and marble to handmade gifts for pets, this guide has a little bit of everything. I’ve included some great art pieces as well, but we have an all-art gift guide coming up, too so if you’re looking for more great art ideas, stay tuned! xo, grace

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DIY Menorah Place Cards

DIY Menorah Place Cards

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I am a bit type A, so I absolutely adore lists, my label maker and a clear sense of order at dinner parties. Enter: Place cards! They are a host’s best friend for wrangling partygoers and they allow your guests to avoid the “Where will I sit?” shuffle, while also giving you peace of mind that you have enough space for all of your guests to sit comfortably. My guests have come to expect a little craftiness adorning their place setting when they attend a dinner party at my house, and they seem to love taking those projects home after the meal. Since Hanukkah is right around the corner, I decided to create these Menorah Place Cards using birch veneer plywood. They are sturdy enough to last for at least eight nights of celebrating. -Sarah

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DIY Moroccan Wedding Blanket Tree Skirt

DIY Moroccan Wedding Blanket Tree Skirt

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​I’m certainly not the type who can trim the tree the same way, year after year. I love to try something new each Christmas, and while I often start with the ornaments, this year I decided to start with the skirt. I’ve admired the beauty of Moroccan wedding blankets for quite some time now, and it hit me that I could perhaps come up with something similar for a tree skirt. The blankets add so much warmth and texture to a space, and their subtle hints of sparkle are perfect for the holidays. Plus, the neutral palette lends itself to all sorts of decor – perfect for my ever-changing tree. -Gwen Hefner of The Makerista

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Graphic Modernism in Melbourne

Design*Sponge: Suzy Tuxen & Shane Loorham, Photograph by Sarah Anderson

Graphic Modernism in Melbourne

In her mission statement published on our site last week, Grace touched upon one of my biggest beliefs when it comes to home design: no rules. There are a number of reasons why this particular principle rings true to me, but the strongest rationale I can think of for it is the simple fact that no two people see the world in the same way. Here at Design*Sponge, the homes we feature typically belong to creatives in a variety of fields, each one with different impulses, different passions, and different ways of looking at their surroundings. As with all forms of art and aesthetics, it is a matter of interpretation.

When it came to decorating their own Melbourne house, graphic designers Suzy Tuxen and Shane Loorham applied their own unique vision and expertise to create a home that in many ways is an extension of the aesthetics and principles that guide their own work. Like a piece of printed graphic design, items within this 1970s single-story home read as punctuations, pieces of a larger puzzle that are informed by the spaces between them and the rooms they inhabit. In the kitchen, a polyhedric sculpture interrupts an expanse of white; in the living room, thoughtfully placed elements of vibrant color catch the eye and guide it throughout the space. Everyday objects become design and decor elements—a vintage Olivetti typewriter hangs on the wall above a desk; a row of espresso makers provide rhythm on a shelf.

The four years that the couple have occupied the home have been filled with experimentation and self-exploration, things that have allowed them to arrive at this point. Colors have been tested, motifs have been taken for a spin. Suzy’s company, A Friend of Mine, touts itself as a holistic design practice, something that seems to carry through to this living space. Each element of the home seems to inform the other, their relationships creating a cohesive, personalized whole. “We’ve painted walls and repainted over them again,” Suzy notes, “Owning a home is great as you can be as playful as you like with it!” —Max

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Decorating For Winter With White

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Decorating For Winter With White

When it comes to decorating with cold weather months in mind, the age-old impulse is to gravitate towards something warm—an earthy brown, an old barn red, a marigold yellow. After all, when you’re suffering the so-called “January Blues,” there’s nothing like a bit of yellow or orange to brighten things up a bit. There is, however, an unsung color hero of winter, and it might surprise you: White. At first, this shade might strike one as the #basic of the color world, but that is hardly the case. White is a master of disguise, a jack of all trades, a master of all. It complements almost all decor and, when the temperature starts taking a dive toward freezing and the days take a turn toward the dark, it can help to maintain a fresh, bright look. With some help from our friends over at Farrow & Ball, we combed through our archives to find some stellar examples of white paint at work. Check them out in the slideshow! —Max

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