I’m almost at the end of my price-based gift guides, rounding out this week’s selections with beautiful high-quality gifts that are $50 and under. In my family we do a “Secret Santa” process so we rotate who gets who a gift every year. Our price limit is always $50 and we all work very hard to find the best and most meaningful pieces we can in that range. I kept a wide range of recipients in mind, from hosts and hostesses to business owners, cooks and gardeners. Hopefully one of these pieces will help someone on your list start a new tradition at home or work. xo, grace
Today’s first DIY project comes from Tinca and Evgen of the blog Hello Yellow House. Based in Ljubljana, Slovenia, these talented architects have spent the last year restoring a home and documenting their projects online. As the holiday season got closer, they decided they wanted to make decorations that suited their modern style, while avoiding plastic as much as possible. So instead, they came up with this beautiful, minimalist wooden tree that uses a steel bar to let the tree branches turn and move. I loved the project so much I asked Tinca and Evgen if we could share it here and thankfully, they were game! I know so many people don’t have the time or interest in bringing real trees home, so if you’re looking for something a bit more modern, without the sticky sap residue, this project is for you. xo, grace
*This project involves metal and welding, so please be sure you’re comfortable or familiar with welding tools before attempting.
Writing a book is often compared to having a baby. While the two are vastly different in a lot of ways, most people who work in publishing reference the fact that you sometimes forget about the most difficult parts when you get the joy of holding the final product in your hands. I definitely felt that way after we finished our first book and now that I’m writing our second, I feel like I’m much more relaxed and “go-with-the-flow” this time around. I honestly feel like a part of a family at Artisan and I am really happy to be a part of their lineup, but I also understand why so many people are choosing to self-publish these days. While it comes with a number of difficult hurdles to cross, it also offers up total creative freedom and a lot more control than most authors are able to get.
Last week we shared a delicious Turkey Lasagna recipe from Anna Watson Carl’s new cookbook, The Yellow Table: A Celebration of Everyday Gatherings, which she chose to self-publish on her own. Anna chose to crowd-fund the beginning of her process, but she was incredibly smart and inventive when it came to funding and producing her own book tour, which kept her goals and values at heart. I was so impressed with Anna’s process and the final product, that I asked her to do a special business post focused just on the process of self-publishing. If you’ve ever wondered about producing your own book or just want to know more about the process, I hope you’ll enjoy Anna’s words of wisdom as much as I did. xo, grace
Sometimes, it turns out that being “in between things” is actually the best place to be. Darcy Allan of Tea With Gladys knew that she didn’t want to go back to working for someone else when she found herself without a job, so she decided to forge a new path, one that gave her the creativity and flexibility she had been looking for. Today Darcy shares a bit about the evolution of her online-to-in-person business and the many helpful bits of information she learned in the process. -Stephanie
Read the full interview after the jump…
Cleveland native and Navy PR founder, Mary Peffer appreciates all of the assets, features, and amenities a big city has to offer. As a previous NYC and LA dweller, it was actually her hometown of Cleveland that kept calling her name, and this past year she finally decided to return to her roots and reintegrate into the metropolitan city that is having a “rebirth” of its own right now. She shares with us some of the many shopping, dining and lodging gems this Ohio city has to offer, as well as some great must-see and -do options. -Stephanie
Read the full guide after the jump…
Whether you’re looking for something fun and colorful or something serious and helpful for around the office and house, today’s $25 and under gift guide has you covered. When I was searching for great finds, I was happy to find so much brass, wood and linen. Years ago it felt impossible to find anything $25 and under that wasn’t made of plastic or some sort of flimsy rubber composite. Now the market is full of great pieces from independent artist and shops that won’t break the bank. The wooden diamond box, ceramic cat dish and maple syrup from Westwind Orchard are my favorites, but hopefully there will be something here for everyone. xo, grace
When I was first living on my own and starting to decorate my apartment, I had this idea that artwork was only something that came from a store or gallery. I relied too often on what I saw in magazines and forgot to trust my own instincts about what I valued and wanted to display. Over time I swung to the other end of the pendulum and traded or gave away every piece of art I owned that wasn’t personally significant to me. While I still lean in that direction now, I’ve started to find a more comfortable middle ground where newer pieces can mingle with the smaller family and friend pieces and it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
One of my favorite new sites for finding beautiful artwork is Daylight Dreams Editions, an LA-based art studio that releases editions of artwork made both by independent artists and artists from their in-house team. Founded by Molly Frances and Mark Frohman, DDE sells framed and un-framed work (the latter ships worldwide) in a wide range of styles, almost all of which appeal to me, which can be dangerous. From textile-inspired paintings to photography of geodes and architectural detailing, these are the sorts of pieces that, when mixed into other loved pieces in your home, can really create a well-rounded and meaningful art collection. Prices range from $75 for prints to $3,000 for larger original pieces, but I found that the majority of pieces in easy-to-frame sizes (i.e: they fit in your standard Ribba frame) were around $150. I’ve got my eye on some of the ancient architectural prints (those columns have my name on them) but I’m going to bookmark them until after the holiday to make sure I don’t act too impulsively. If you’re looking for something to brighten your walls, click here to check out and shop their full collection online. xo, grace
Minnesota’s long winters are known for their subzero temperatures and punishing snow, but they seem perfect for life at the beautifully cozy home of Johnna and Max Holmgren. The proprietors of Bear Fox Chalk, an illustration studio that uses chalk as its chosen medium, the pair are no strangers to thinking creatively or working with their hands, tasks that they took to with serious verve when they decided to renovate a long-abandoned nineteenth century home in the town of Stillwater. Over the course of two years, the couple transformed this once dilapidated and damaged home, opening up floor plans, exposing hardwood floors, and giving the interior a fresh coat of bright white paint.
The house’s purchase and renovation was a labor of love in numerous ways, and love, more than anything, is what seems to permeate this home. “We dated in high school and this city was our halfway point where we would meet often for dates and outings,” Johnna recalls. “We fell in love with the city, the St. Croix River, the accessibility to both the city and country. We loved the old homes and loved the idea of our daughter Luella growing up here with parks on every corner and forests only a jaunt away for exploring.” The home, now freshly renovated and overflowing with warmth and light, is exactly the sort of place that can grow and evolve along with this young family; a charming, yet unfussy space that is filled with memories and room to create new ones. —Max
I sadly was born without the gene that gives so many people the patience needed to hunt for great vintage furniture and clothes. Thankfully in today’s online retail world, there are hundreds of incredible shop owners who have not only the patience, but the great eye, to find these gems and make them readily available online. Mary of Millay Vintage is one of those people and I’ve been following her excellent shop since I first discovered her Instagram feed (which is filled with incredible coats, jackets and dresses.) Mary and her husband Will recently moved to Philadelphia from Boston to pursue a new job opportunity and managed to get their new home put together in less than a month. Along with their Chihuahua, General Gazpacho, Mary and Will fell in love with their apartment’s architecture and French doors and decided to embrace the original details when decorating. Rather than covering them up with modern design, they’ve managed to mix in contemporary pieces along with a wide range of vintage finds collected from thrift shops and Craigslist. Because they’re renters, Mary and Will were limited in what they could do to the space to make it their own, but they used paint, contact paper and wallpaper (hung, not pasted) to customize their home and create a space that feels warm and welcoming and reflects the people living inside. I love seeing all their DIY projects and marveling at their incredible thrifted finds (that iron bed!)- it’s such wonderful proof that homes don’t need to be brand new, expensive or ‘finished’ to be beautiful. xo, grace
Photographs by Joe St. Pierre
A few weeks ago Julia and I took a trip to High Falls, New York, a small town near the Catskills that was having incredible makers fair called Field + Supply. Created by interior designer Brad Ford, the event was an incredible showcase of just how much talent is living in and around the Hudson Valley area. Max and I both visited on different days and we each came back with long lists of people to contact about home and studio tours. I’m so thrilled to showcase one of those tours today with Jude Rand and Eben Papele, the artist and metalsmith behind Rand Papele jewelry. Inspired by Japanese and Scandinavian symbolism and folk art traditions, Judy and Eben’s work feels like it has one foot in the future and one firmly rooted in the traditions of the past. It’s that new-meets-old feeling that I love in just about everything in my life and these two talented artists have brought that feeling to the 19th century farmhouse in High Falls, New York that they now call home. Former antique and art dealers, Jude and Eben have filled their home with historic weavings, rugs, furniture and all types of intriguing objects, from spiral entry bells to wooden crates. This is the sort of space I want to wander in for hours and ask questions about every object. So I’ll let Jude and Eben take it from here and introduce us to the beautiful things they surround themselves with at home and at work. xo, grace
Great gifts come in all shapes and sizes. Few things say you care as much as spending time with someone and giving them something you made yourself, but having something special to wrap and give to a loved one is always nice, too. So this week we’re going to be posting a range of gift guides organized by theme (art! food! books!) and by price. To kick things off, I wanted to start with gifts that come with a $10 price tag (or less). Hopefully one of these will be the perfect piece for someone special in your life. xo, grace
Image above, clockwise from top left: Leather keychain $10, Woodfire Matches $6, Animal Print Bag $9, Love Matches $6, Coffee Clip/Spoon $5.95, Champagne Stars Lollipop $4, Candlesticks $5-$7, Faceted Soaps $8, Ring Holder $9.95, Gold Top Lightbulb $7, Blue Willow Mug $10, Message Pencils $10.
Having a small living space can put a bit of a damper on holiday decorating, especially if you’re the kind of person who likes to go all-out: Christmas trees, stockings, twinkle lights, and manger scenes galore! Still, having an apartment, condo, cabin, houseboat, or dorm doesn’t mean you have to opt out of the festivities. What it does mean is that you might have to get a little creative—and who doesn’t love that?
Decorating my own Brooklyn apartment for the holidays has always seemed like more trouble than it’s worth. With two dogs, a studio setup, and five floors to walk up, carting a Christmas tree (or even a wreath, for that matter!) into the apartment is a daunting idea. This year, however, I decided to challenge myself a bit and distill my notion of holiday decorating down to what I really love most about the season: the lights! After all, there’s nothing like a bit of sparkle to take your mind off the fact that the sun is now setting at 4pm!
With a little bit of help from the fine folks at Target, I gathered some supplies to turn my apartment into a glowing holiday retreat—perfect for some cocktails with friends or even a cozy night indoors with a good book. We’ve got 3 tips for bringing the razzle dazzle of the holidays into your own home—check them out in the slideshow! —Max
After 10 years, 6 redesigns and nearly 16,000 posts, I thought it was time to sit down and define what we stand for here at Design*Sponge. This site began as a small personal hobby during my lunch break and has grown and changed in ways I could never possibly imagine. I’ve gone from blogging alone in my room to managing over 20 people to narrowing down to a small, nimble and devoted team of colleagues that I wouldn’t change for the world. When I first started, there were less than a handful of us talking about design online. We didn’t need to stand out because there wasn’t a crowd to differentiate ourselves from. But 10 years later this incredible design community has grown to such great heights that I think it’s important to talk about the things we do (and don’t) believe in here. I’ve spent months thinking about why we write this blog, what matters most to us and what informs every single thing we post. And what I ended up with was a manifesto of sorts, a list of 10 statements that lay our hearts, minds and beliefs on the table and hopefully will help you get to know us better as we are today. One of the greatest joys of my life so far has been getting to learn and grow alongside all of you and I hope that sharing our goals with Design*Sponge can us connect even more as we move forward. xo, grace
I’ve eaten some truly special meals since marrying Julia and it’s been a joy to accompany her to restaurants and food events where exciting ingredients and chefs are on display. But of all the events she’s taken me to, few have compared to the dinner we shared at the home of Anna Watson Carl.
Anna is the founder, author and cook behind the blog The Yellow Table. We’ve been lucky to share two of her recipes on Design*Sponge before, but the best bit of luck was being invited to a dinner at her home in downtown Manhattan to praise her new self-published cookbook, The Yellow Table: A Celebration of Everyday Gatherings. Anna arranged for a small gathering of friends to eat a meal from her book around the now famous yellow table (which belonged to her family and now lives with her in NYC). Every bite was incredible and to see and hear about the love that went into every recipe and the book (self-publishing is no small undertaking) made the evening a night I’ll never forget. We got our copy of Anna’s book last week and I was excited to finally flip through and get a chance to celebrate it here on Design*Sponge. I’ll be interviewing Anna about her self-publishing experience next week, but in the meantime, she’s sharing her Spinach & Turkey Lasagna recipe with us here today. It’s light but still warm and filling – perfect for winter. A huge congrats to Anna on her book, which you can now pick up right here! xo, grace
Photograph above by Signe Birck
A few months back, I wrote a small, somewhat exasperated essay about the challenges that face modern-day consumer, from the issues surrounding unfair working conditions and underpaid labor to the environmental impact of mass-scale production. Since that point, I’ve tried to keep these issues at the back of my mind whenever making purchases. Do I know who the maker is? Do I know where this item was made? Was it made safely and ethically? Because of this, I’ve decided that most of the gifts I give this holiday will be of the local, small-batch, handcrafted variety. Luckily, I’ve had the chance to meet some truly incredible artists, makers, and craftsmen over the past year, many of whom live a close distance from New York. From beautiful heirloom-quality jewelry to delightful little stocking stuffers, here are some of my favorite handmade gifts for 2014! —Max
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