Before & After: Ananda’s Patio Makeover

Before & After: Ananda's Patio Makeover | Design*Sponge

Before & After: Ananda’s Patio Makeover

Renting definitely has its limitations when it comes to remodeling or refurbishing. We are all about sticking to the lease rules, but we are also all about finding solutions that make a rental home feel personal. Ananda Qianyu was set on finding a way to completely transform her San Diego, CA balcony without compromising her lease and without spending too much money. Pallets for the walls, floors and furniture changed the basic stucco balcony into a colorful, lush and cost-effective patio.

Ananda had a few guidelines from her landlord to follow, but also imposed some of her own rules when planning what to do with the space. “Rule #1: No drilling into/attaching to existing walls. Rule #2: No painting existing surfaces including floor, walls and ceiling. Rule #3: We want to prove that everyone can have a gorgeous space no matter what their budget is. Rule #4: We love a built-in look, but everything we build should be easily taken apart when we move,” she says. Ananda’s home has gained additional living space that she and her husband love, without compromising their agreement or what they really want. —Lauren

Photography by Ananda Qianyu

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Home Ec: How to Rewire a Table Lamp

Home Ec: How to Rewire a Table Lamp, on Design*Sponge

Home Ec: How to Rewire a Table Lamp

Harnessing the power of electrons is a physical science that still seems more like magic to the uninitiated. Perhaps this is why even the most intrepid of DIYers sometimes stop short of projects that involve tinkering with electrical. There can be unintended and dangerous consequences to doing so, which is why it’s best to let a licensed electrician handle hardwired fixtures (and all stuff hidden behind the wall). However, a plug-in table lamp can be repaired relatively easily by anyone with a few dollars to spare for materials, and the curiosity to peek behind the curtain. —Annie

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This post and the Home Ec section are brought to you by Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day. Visit the Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Home-Grown Inspiration section featuring 20 DIYs, including seven from Design*Sponge!

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An Apartment Fit For a Foodie and Her Bunny

On Cranberry Street, A One-Bedroom Apartment For a Foodie and Her Bunny

An Apartment Fit For a Foodie and Her Bunny

Diana Yen is the owner of food consulting studio, The Jewels of New York, and the author of A Simple Feast. Inspired by seasonal home cooking, Diana’s work focuses on food styling and recipe development, all with the help of her studio produce specialist, Cleo the bunny. “She’s also fantastic at helping me compost veggie scraps,” jokes Diana.

After living in Soho and Red Hook, Diana decided she wanted to live in a place that felt cozy, but was still a very close commute to Manhattan. So after visiting friends who lived in Brooklyn Heights, she fell in love with the historical architecture and mature trees, and found herself settling on the tree-lined Cranberry Street (how fitting!), not far from the waterfront promenade.

Her one-bedroom rental apartment is airy and flooded with sunlight, and although it’s not as large as her former homes, the charm and picturesque block its on can’t be beat! What’s more, the smaller space makes keeping tabs on Cleo much easier: “She is cage-free and litter trained like a cat, but also chews on everything!” Diana explains. Though she couldn’t make any permanent changes to the space, she’s added storage by installing plenty of overhead shelving and using baskets and decorative bins in every room. Following her move-in, Diana was quick to paint her favorite room in a home, the kitchen, in her favorite hue, “Pink Ground” by Farrow & Ball. “There’s something very warm and feminine about this color that is perfect in the kitchen,” she explains. Following that, she opted for a soft, calming blue-gray in the bedroom, and ivory in the living room, which complements her favorite feature of the home: the decorative mantel.

Though she admits that her furniture is a hodge-podge of gifted, found, handed down or inherited items — and that no planning went into her interior — the result is a personalized and functional space that speaks to Diana’s personality. As she says, “for me, all of my little objects that I collect from here and there eventually help tell the story of a home.”  —Sabrina

 

 

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How to Stock Your Shop and Keep Customers Coming Back for More

Life & Business: How to Stock Your Shop and Keep Customers Coming Back for More on Design*Sponge

How to Stock Your Shop and Keep Customers Coming Back for More

In our instantly gratifying digital age, the operation of a successful brick-and-mortar shop poses an evolving challenge. “Think of your store as a tangible art show of goods,” advises Erin Austen Abbott, the proprietor of a six-year-old Oxford, Mississippi business called Amelia. Her two boutique storefronts and e-commerce site carry “a little something for everyone, from housewares, to stationery, to jewelry, to baby items.” Though web purchases are a component of many street-side businesses, Abbott believes that in order to keep customers walking through doors and not purchasing online exclusively, they should be welcomed by physical experiences impossible to translate into pixels. From cultivated merchandising displays to a continuously updated selection of unique items, the following strategies have earned Amelia locations many loyal shoppers who never risk missing a great find. —Annie

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MINE: Paint Chip Collection

A decade of memories from my time in New York City live in these tiny paint chips. Shown here are 16 of about 200!

MINE: Paint Chip Collection

Most of the time, we tend to hold onto things and objects that make us smile or revel in a sweet moment of nostalgia. The majority of the boxes in my basement that I’m slowly taking inventory of represent just that — special moments in time, embodied in a collection of like things. It’s cathartic to take a trip down memory lane once in a while and revisit those moments. Taking some time to make some tough decisions about whether to “let it go” and live on in memory or to dust it off and see where it should live today isn’t exactly fun, but sometimes it’s necessary.

A few weeks ago, I made a decision that a basement full of memories was a little too similar to living in a haunted house. I wanted to somehow honor the contents of the many boxes that lived there, but more importantly, I wanted to actively determine (on a gut level) if I needed to reclaim this space for my needs today. Armed with my camera, I decided to gather the contents of my boxes and give them their due, respectively, by creating an image archive. This would give me some time to figure out where these treasured things should live moving forward.

Going through these boxes, there were tons of moments when I was reminded of where I was at a certain time in my life. Yep, I cringed at some, nearly gagged at others and some made me smile, feeling a pure sense of freedom and growth. Some were just gross and needn’t be given another thought or photograph. Then I opened my paint chip box.

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A Venice Family Brings Adventure Home

A Venice Family Brings Adventure Home, Design*Sponge

A Venice Family Brings Adventure Home

Meghan and David were hunting down the ideal fixer-upper when they stumbled upon this 1970s tri-level in California. Both having artistic backgrounds meant that the two were eager to design every detail of their space. “We were looking for a house with low ceilings that we could vault. Add some drama!” Meghan says with gusto.

It took about five months to complete the core of the renovations. Throughout all the rewiring, wall-moving and basically total rebuilding, the couple remembers there being some unique renovation laughs. “There was a period for about three weeks where, because of the classic construction-domino effect, we didn’t have a bathroom,” Meghan says. “So I would stop drinking any kind of liquid at 5 pm so as not to have to go… not joking.” For every challenge that came with the renovations, however, there were strokes of luck that kept surprising the couple. The home’s 30-year-old carpet had seen better days, but thankfully underneath all that shag was the perfect slab of concrete. “Having all boys (I am including my husband in that grouping) means that nothing can be too precious,” Meghan says. The concrete surprise, as well as a black leather sofa and black wood floors, were chosen as they’d only get better with age.

When it came to decorating their new place, the family curated items that reflected their rock ‘n roll, unfussy attitudes. Meghan and David love the adventurous stories — real or imagined — that their accessories seem to tell. As you glide through today’s Sneak Peek, it’s easy to imagine the homeowners having gone on all of life’s monumental adventures, but it’s clear after getting to know them that their biggest adventure is still in the making. “I am thankful that it is our very own little base for life’s little adventures. And it’s the backdrop for all our fun, chaotic, important and most special memories,” David and Meghan share. “When the boys are 35 and looking back, this space will be in the background for all that nostalgia. What will future ‘us’ remember about this? That’s why it’s important to me to be considerate of what [we] put in [our] space. It’s, in a funny way, a family legacy.” Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Meghan DeRoma

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Life & Business: Starting and Running a Business: How to Find What Works

Life & Business: Starting and Running a Business: How to Find What Works

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When Kristen Pumphrey launched P.F. Candle Co. in 2008, she had no experience or education in how to run a business. Kristen knew she loved candles and had a knack for making them, but going from a 12-year-old who loved crafting candles to a full-blown, small-batch candle company was a new challenge that, at times, seemed overwhelmingly hard. But like almost everything in life, experience is knowledge is power. Since then, her husband Thomas Neuberger has joined the team of now nearly a dozen. Along the way, Kristen has learned countless little lessons and, due to her authentic approach to business, has gained a large loyal following of supporters and customers from around the globe. Today, hindsight being 20/20, Kristen is sharing some honest and simple advice to help you discover what works for your business to run smoothly. —Sabrina

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Life & Business: Gordy’s Pickle Jar

Life & Business: Gordy’s Pickle Jar

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I feel like pickles are either something you love or like — okay, I’m sure there are people out there who dislike them, but I think those who do love them more than make up for it. I personally fall in the former category and adore pickles; be it a dill beside a sandwich, gherkins in my potato salad, or bread and butter pickles completely on their own. So when I discovered Gordy’s Pickle Jar, offering handcrafted pickles and preserves, my mouth began to water.

What started as a celebration of a garden harvest has led partners in business and life, Sarah Gordon and Sheila Fain, to perfect the craft of pickling while staying true to themselves and satisfying their tang tooth. But Gordy’s doesn’t end with the mighty cucumber: Their exciting line of small-batch pickled products includes okra, peppers, chilies, and more. More than just a one-skew product, their business has become a lifestyle. Gordy’s reflects and accommodates how Sheila and Sarah live, from experimenting with a new recipe on their blog (which takes you on a culinary journey from a smooth Thai Basil jalapeño butter to the best Bloody Mary you’ll ever have using pickle brine), to sharing in and supporting their local DC food community and participating in myriad events. Today, Sarah is opening up about their business, the importance of asking for help, their willingness to make sacrifices, and setting goals that seem impossible to achieve. —Sabrina

Photography by Morgan H. West

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Berlin, Germany City Guide

Berlin, Germany City Guide

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As much as I’m embarrassed to admit it, traveling kind of stresses me out. It isn’t necessarily the travel itself I find overwhelming, but the planning and inevitable feeling that I have to “fit” everything in. As a homebody, I’m quite content staying at home and I find a sunny, warm day spent gardening — followed by a wonderful meal — quite relaxing on its own. But after reading through Ilenia’s guide to Berlin and gawking at her photos, I found myself at ease, checking my passport and daydreaming of a trip there.

Ilenia Martini was born and raised just outside of Rome, Italy. Growing up, her passion for photography was encouraged by her parents, and, after studying in London at Middlesex University, she moved to New York to further her career. But it wasn’t long before her European roots began to pull her back overseas. Just over a year ago, she made the leap again and now finds herself in beautiful Berlin where she works as an Art Director for Hem. Her guide is short, sweet and simple, and focuses on just enjoying, which is right up my alley. –Sabrina

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Two High School Sweethearts’ Sunshiny Studio

Two High School Sweethearts' Sunshiny Studio, Design*Sponge

Two High School Sweethearts’ Sunshiny Studio

Micro-living has definitely seen an uptick in the last few years. There are even debates over what actually qualifies as “micro” as people become more and more adept at thriving in an ever-decreasing sliver of a home. This concept goes against what the generations before mine were taught: that size matters and happiness is measured in square feet. When I moved to Chicago, I shared a studio space that was less than ideal, but not once did I doubt that I had made the right decision. My little piece of the sky did indeed have some advantages. I could cook and do laundry at the same time all while laying in bed. That’s a win for a bachelor. Soaking up the city was what I came for, not to sit in a box and stare at my four walls. So why care about how big or small it was? All I really needed was a bed and I was set. Having done it myself, I am always intrigued by how others problem-solve and decorate their own pint-sized homes.

Meg and Brad, two creatives behind Ghostly Ferns, share this 700-square-foot studio in the Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn. After meeting in high school marching band, the couple struck out on a journey that had them living all over the United States before work finally brought them to New York. “It’s incredibly difficult to find loft buildings in South Brooklyn,” the couple says about their home search. Their eclectic style meant that no matter what the bones of their new apartment were, their home would be far from cookie-cutter. The two truly did luck out, however, when they came across this 1930s factory building with its plentiful light and bright walls.

The potential was absolutely there, but as with any home, Meg and Brad have come across challenges when it comes to fitting two people in one space. “With any studio apartment comes the issue of dividing the space properly. We still have huge sound issues. It would be great if one of us could comfortably watch TV while the other is sleeping,” Meg explains. That being said, the two still knew that this home was a no-brainer with its inviting vibe and airiness. Unique details like three skylights, a kitchen in an old elevator shaft, and the sweethearts’ styling have all helped to make what could have been a tight squeeze an inviting home base. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Meg Lewis

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The Home Where Snow White Grew Up

The Home Where Snow White Grew Up, Design*Sponge

The Home Where Snow White Grew Up

The second I heard that Angela and Johnny lived in the former home of Adriana Caselotti — the voice of Disney’s Snow White — I couldn’t wait to take a peek inside. Not only did the styling not disappoint, but the home’s story is one I can’t get out of my head.

Adriana was living in the home with her music-teacher father when Walt Disney himself called to ask her father if he knew any students who would be perfect for the role in his upcoming picture. As she secretly listened in on the conversation, Adriana immediately knew she wanted to play the part. The second she got her father’s permission to audition, Adriana endlessly practiced her lines in the bathroom mirror before what would become her career-defining audition. That very mirror still remains in the home’s full bath to this day.

If that story isn’t charming enough, the way Angela and Johnny came to find their home sounds like something out of a movie itself. They were not too keen on living in Hollywood when it came time to move last June, but an unusual listing caught their attention. “(It) had only a few photos and was kind of cryptic and mysterious, but it mentioned that the house was the former home of the voice of Snow White, and we recognized the tower from the film The Long Goodbye in one of the photos. (A few days later on a bulletin board) we found a handwritten listing on an index card, ‘PHONE CALLS ONLY,’ and it was so old-timey and charming we decided to go for it. The neighborhood and house turned out to be totally gorgeous and magical,” Angela says.

The couple are extremely grateful for the home’s setting. Its position situated on a hillside walk-street — that doesn’t allow car access — serves to create the serene oasis from the hustle of Hollywood that the two were yearning for. “We park our car in a garage at the base of the hill, take the elevator up, and then walk another three minutes to get to the house,” Johnny and Angela explain. It was absolutely a lifestyle adjustment, but one that they wouldn’t change for anything. Bursting with light, a wonderful history, and views that stretch to the ocean and back, today’s sneak peek is one I won’t soon forget. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Angela Stasio

 

 

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A Valentino Collaborator’s Australian Pad

A Valentino Collaborator's Australian Pad, Design*Sponge

A Valentino Collaborator’s Australian Pad

To attend a fashion show with its pomp, glitz and laissez-faire formality is exciting in and of itself. To watch an entire collection hit the runway that’s inspired by your work, however, is a rush I won’t even attempt to describe. I first came across Esther Stewart when the 26-year-old’s bold, geometric designs graced the Parisian runway on nearly every look from Valentino’s Autumn 2015-2016 Menswear collection. Her unique mixture of color immediately drew me to her work, and I quickly became what my 17-year-old brother would call “a fanboy.” Naturally, I was ecstatic when Esther agreed to give us a peek inside the Australian home and studio she shares with her partner Oscar Perry.

The couple met in Melbourne, but after studying and living in the city for eight years, they were ready to move to a more comfortable space that would allow for more flexibility with their craft. The decision was made: a small parcel of land in Daylesford, where Esther grew up, would serve as the artists’ studio while home base would remain in Melbourne. That didn’t last long, as the builders and Esther quickly realized the untapped potential of a hay barn nearby. Six months later, Esther and Oscar had turned the barn into a new home to match their new studio space. Esther’s high school art teacher and builder was a welcome help, allowing exactly zero setbacks along the road to renovation. From installing customized built-in cabinetry to incorporating secondhand finds, the team dynamic could not have been more pleasant. “In fact, I enjoyed it so much I am already planning what my next project could be,” Esther raves. “Our plan was to have a large, functioning studio with a small, compact house that had plenty of storage and natural light. We couldn’t be happier with the outcome.” With 10 acres of inspiration, a swimming dam nearby, and what’s soon to be a flourishing garden, I believe that from such a beautiful space only beautiful art can arise. I certainly cannot wait to see what’s next. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Lauren Bamford

 

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Tips & Tricks for Creating a Customer-Catching Storefront Display

Tips & Tricks for Creating a Customer-Catching Storefront Display

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They say not to judge a book by its cover, but who are we kidding? It’s undeniable that the cover of a book affects your decision to either read on or put it back on the shelf. In today’s visual culture, this can be even more true for anyone who runs any kind of business, whether online or brick-and-mortar.

With so many visuals coming at us from our computers, phones and various feeds — let alone the world outside our doors — it seems we’re almost expected to have a cool logo and visually-rich branded content in order to even be noticed. And regardless of whether you want to succumb to this fact or not, as exhausting as it can be, it’s hard to deny that a first impression can have a huge impact and influence on your business; which, much like a book cover, can determine the number of customers who open the door.

When used right, your storefront display/window can be one of the most powerful weapons in your arsenal to make you stand out from the competition. But if this thought already gives you hives and you’re left thinking “I am sooooo not creative,” don’t fret! We recently teamed up with the fantastic U.S. Small Merchants group at American Express to lend a design hand with their storefront decals, so look for our “Love My Store” series created by Design*Sponge to proudly display on your shop door or window (see them after the jump!). The Amex team developed the the supportive and successful Shop Small® and Small Business Saturday campaigns, and tirelessly work to add tips, tools and resources to their small business website, The Knowledge Center. We were thrilled to have a larger venue to share our Life & Business columns with the masses!

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some tips, tricks and advice on crafting a storefront display that serves your business — whether you sell coffee, antiques or apparel, both online or in a physical location. Today I’m sharing plenty of tips for creating an awesome, customer-catching storefront display for brick-and-mortar merchants! —Sabrina

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New Wallpapers from Juju Papers

New Wallpapers from Juju Papers

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For me, last year’s ICFF was all about wallpaper. Glorious, glorious wallpaper. There were rows upon rows (and rolls upon rolls) on display that celebrated all sorts of styles and trends, from florals and geometric prints to shiny mylar patterns and traditional toile. One of my favorites every year, Juju Papers, offered to give us a sneak peek at their collection before it hits the show floor this year (Booth #831). Designer Avery Thatcher will be debuting two new beautiful patterns, Big Moon (inspired by New York’s underground art and music scene from the 80s) and Pas de Trois (an artistic interplay in three basic painted gestures). Each one is available in Gold on Cream, Silver on Cream and Gold on Charcoal and is a bright, bold way to decorate your walls or totally transform a room. In addition to these beautiful styles, Juju will also be offering old favorites in new colorways. So if you’re planning to visit the show, be sure to check them out in person. You can also check out (and shop) the new papers online right here. I can’t wait to see Big Moon in person — that bold pattern in the charcoal/gold combo is stunning. Until Monday, I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! xo, grace

Photos by Mikola Accuardi

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Tara O’Brady’s Esquites and Gazpacho

Tara O’Brady’s Esquites and Gazpacho

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Tara O’Brady is not a newcomer to the In the Kitchen With column. We featured her pakoras and green chutney a few years ago, which were a great hit with our readers. I am just as excited today as I was then to have her on the column, this time with a recipe for Esquites and Yellow Tomato Gazpacho from her new cookbook, Seven Spoons. As the recipe and images attest, Tara’s book is a print extension of the lovely cosmopolitan recipes from her blog of the same name. We have a very small window here in Rome to buy fresh corn on the cob (and at exorbitant prices!) and when that window opens, this soup will be on my menu! (For best flavor, start this recipe one day before.) —Kristina

Why Tara loves this recipe: This recipe is a favorite way to showcase corn at its peak. It turns the flavors of Mexican street corn into a soup that’s vividly bright and refreshing, yet lush. The corn, tomatoes, peppers, and onion create a layered sweetness, and then there is the vinegar that dives straight through it all. The whole of the production is low effort and unfussy, yet striking, and just what I want on a hot summer evening.

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