Life & Business: Gail Davis

Life & Business: Gail Davis

Life & Business: Gail Davis, Design*Sponge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breaking points — they come at different times for each of us, but they all come with the same feeling: a certainty and pit in your stomach that says, “it’s time.” Gail Davis, founder of GMD Interiors, knew her time had come after growing fed up with her mundane job and corporate life. This revelation set her off on a blazing path to becoming an interior designer — and fulfilling her dream of carving out a more creatively stimulating life for herself.

Her current success doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows Gail. Even as a child, she had a penchant for pretty things. She credits her grandparents’ home with kickstarting her curiosity about design. Their landscaping, in particular “…made you want to discover the goings on [inside],” she recalls. Years later, a job at Saks Fifth Avenue’s corporate headquarters introduced her to the wonderful world of visual design and the miraculous makers that crafted the beautiful store and corporate office. “I want to do that,” she thought.

In retrospect, these moments lit the way for Gail; instilling in her the confidence needed to pursue the satisfying career she has today. Since becoming her own boss, she has learned a thing or two about self-management, making time for herself, and the sweet success that comes with a happy client. Read all about these lessons and more after the jump. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Crystal N. Davis

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An Eclectic 1950s Ranch House For Family and Furry Friends

Home To Family and Furry Friends, A Cultivated and Eclectic 1950's Ranch House

An Eclectic 1950s Ranch House For Family and Furry Friends

After immigrating from Brazil nearly two decades ago, Patricia Kohlhepp landed in Monterey, CA, where she met her husband, Allen, a market researcher specializing in qualitative research. After stints living in Washington and Georgia, the couple returned home to sunny California and settled in Corte Madera in Marin County. Nestled in the foothills of Mt. Tamalpais, they found and renovated this 1950s three-bedroom ranch, close to parks, bike paths, waterways and their daughters’ schools. As a previous school teacher herself, Patricia’s natural desire for all things creative is what led her to start her own textile business. While raising a family, Patricia also runs Wanderluster Bazaar, which sells one-of-a-kind products made from vintage textiles she sources globally. Just like her products, her home is awash with eclecticism. Rather than sticking to a singular style or trend, Patricia’s interiors are accented with mixes of classic staple pieces from across the globe.

Cultivated and colorful with surprising pops of color around every corner, the family home is anything but precious. On top of running the vintage textile shop Wanderluster Bazaar, Patricia opens her home up to dogs of all kinds (although mostly pugs) through her dog walking and boarding business, Wanderlust Dogs. On any given day, their 2,500-square-foot ranch home is filled with family and dogs, including their own schnauzers, Maggie and Samba. “Yes,” Patricia laughs, “I am the crazy [dog] lady!” Due to this, the renovations the family embarked on when they first moved in made for a chaotic and exhausting few months, which is just the way Patricia likes it. “Everything happened pretty quickly, because I like to move fast!” she says. “We had great contractors and sometimes it felt like a zoo with our dogs, the contractor’s dog, our chickens, and all of the materials strewn about the yard, but it worked out.”

The home offers great views from its location on a small hill, plenty of privacy and some of the only redwoods in all of Corte Madera. Although each day can be a bit of a whirlwind, the family couldn’t be any happier with the outcome and to have a cozy, welcoming space to call home. “Now I’m ready to move and do it all over again,” Patricia half-jokes. –Sabrina

Photography by Matt McCourtney

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Her Story: An Interview with Executive Producer Kate Fisher

Her Story: An Interview with Executive Producer Kate Fisher

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Three episodes into Her Story, a new online series about love and dating in the trans and queer communities, I heard a line that resonated so strongly with me I had to stop, rewind and hear it again. Allie (played by Laura Zak) is explaining to Violet (played by Jen Richards) why an incident involving her high school newspaper changed her life forever. Her newspaper exposed a story of abuse in her school and led to the end of that behavior and real change. It was that moment that made her, “realize the power of a true story well told.”

I think a lot about stories, truth and vulnerability here at D*S, namely because they’re all issues that affect the way we feel in our day-to-day lives, and by sharing them, we’re able to create places that feel safe — places that feel like home. But I often think about how many people’s stories are left out of movies, music, television and publishing. These people are either not given the chance to tell their stories in their own voices, or their stories are deemed in some way too different to be relevant to the “mainstream.” As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I care deeply about hearing stories from all people who identify as LGBTQ+, but as a human being, I know that these stories are important not just within our own community, but the community at large. At the end of the Her Story series, Allie says, “Our great disservice is not just to those we’ve excluded, but to ourselves, for our world is less rich without their stories, their laughter, their voices.” Celebrating and embracing all of these stories and voices is what we believe in here at D*S, and today I’m so excited to talk with the executive producer of this incredible new series, Kate Fisher.

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Kate, along with co-executive producer Eve Ensler, director Sydney Freeland and writers Jen Richards and Laura Zak, worked together with an amazing crew to create this series, which debuted last week online. Today, Kate took time out of her busy premier schedule to talk with us about how this series came to be, what filmmaking has taught her about life and work, and what we can all learn from people sharing their stories in their own voices. Read on to learn more and click here to watch all six episodes of Her Story online for free. xo, grace

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Life & Business: Campbell-Rey

Life & Business: Campbell-Rey

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For Duncan Campbell and Charlotte Rey, curation and storytelling is a natural tendency that bleeds into all areas of their lives, from how they dress, to the decor in their homes, to how they see the world. Although they attended different schools — Charlotte studied fashion and history theory in London, and Duncan studied law in Paris — their friendship was grounded in their shared love and unique perspective towards visuals. Their point of view and penchant for curation only continued to gain them recognition and, after school, they both became editors for Acne Paper, an in-house publication by notable Swedish fashion house Acne.

Over time, the demand skyrocketed for the team’s thoughtful visuals and understated but elegant approach towards art and design, and they found themselves torn between their day-jobs in roles they loved, and the promise of the future. Although neither Duncan nor Charlotte had experience starting a business, they both saw the opportunities in front of them and decided to embark on their own career path. Together, they launched the London-based creative consultancy Campbell-Rey, offering their signature intuitive approach to visual storytelling to lifestyle brands. Hallmarked by rich, classical aesthetics, their work has landed them clients from Bentley and Bulgari to Baccarat and Coach. Today, Duncan and Charlotte are joining us to share some insight into their process, how they got to where they are, and what rock n’ roll has to do with it all. –Sabrina

Photograph above by Robbie Lawrence

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SEEKING & ACCEPTING HELP FROM OTHERS

SEEKING & ACCEPTING HELP FROM OTHERS

Seeking & Accepting Help From Others
As creative, hands-on people, there’s an incredible amount of pressure to do things ourselves. That mindset may be what got you to where you are: accomplishing goals you set for yourself, turning a passion into a job, or building your dream home bit by bit. As a result, you now feel invincible. You might have even made yourself a needlepoint or woodblock print that says “I can do anything.” But can you, reeeeaaaaally?

There are a lot of things that we need. We need websites! We need to give our employees health insurance! We need a 60-second video pitch for Shark Tank! It’s not easy, but it’s time to learn how to seek and accept help. You’re the best at your thing, and you rely on clients and customers to need you. Now it’s time to go need someone else. A paintbrush is a tool and so is an accountant. Use both to create beautiful work. –ADAMJK

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Missoula, MT City Guide

Missoula, MT City Guide

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With a humble population, Missoula, MT is small, but mighty. Surrounded by five mountain ranges and myriad rivers, many recognize Missoula for its University — but as today’s city guide writer, Jessica Lowry, knows firsthand, this great city is much more than that. An editorial and commercial photographer, editor and writer, Jessica was born and raised in Atlanta, GA and earned her degree in Journalism and Telecommunications from the University of Georgia. Although her work has taken her everywhere from Rome to the inside of a bat cave in rural Tennessee, Jessica followed her lens and heart all the way to Missoula, where she and her husband have lived for nearly a decade.

Filled with oodles of options categorized into Missoula’s various popular neighborhoods, today, Jessica is sharing the very best that Missoula has to offer — including adventurous outings and the best spots to find succulents, bibimbap and charming paper goods, and the perfect places to go to for a greasy spoon breakfast.  –Sabrina

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What’s In Your Toolbox: Jacqueline Davis Moranti

What’s In Your Toolbox: Jacqueline Davis Moranti

What's In Your Toolbox: Jacqueline Davis Moranti, on Design*Sponge

As a young girl born in the U.S. to South American immigrant parents, Jacqueline Davis Moranti couldn’t communicate with the other kids in English. She turned to drawing her thoughts as a form of expression, and continued the routine even as she further assimilated into her homeland. As an adult, Jacqui tackles a range of creative projects from cartoon editorials, to high fashion illustrations, to web design and typography. Jacqueline’s blog Burgundy Whispers tracks the overlap between her professional work and personal wardrobe, as she reworks items she already owns in new ways. The practice is an extension of her studio process, where she makes lists of words opposing her ideas to tease out interesting tensions between concepts.

“We live in a world full of content, and it’s up to you to figure out how to make it your own and share your edited version with the world,” she explains. For someone who enjoys making a great first impression, we think Jacqui can cross that item off her to-do list for today. —Annie

Photography and illustration by Jacqueline Davis Moranti, portrait by Kevin Michael Smith

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A Colorful, Layered Home Focused on Fun and Family

As you enter the home and turn to your left, you'll find the family room with a fun mix of comfortable layers, textures and pops of color.

A Colorful, Layered Home Focused on Fun and Family

Aniko Levai and her husband only had two things on their “must-have” list when they were first house-hunting: location and privacy. With two young boys, aged four and six, being close to their school was important and easy enough to find, but a home on a private, spacious lot was more of a challenge — and meant sacrificing a turnkey space. When the family found this detached home offering over 2,000 square feet in the heart of Richmond, VA, it was an entirely different space than it is now.

Having grown up in Hungary, Aniko moved to America 14 years ago and started a family business with her husband. A photographer in her downtime, Aniko naturally documented the many changes they made to their home, and eventually launched the blog Place of My Taste to chronicle their adventures in everything home, family and DIY. As a young family of four that runs a business, life for the Levai family is busy and chaotic; so function and fun were top-of-mind when it came to design. “I like to bring in and mix different styles,” Aniko says, “Using pops of colors in each room.” Whether it’s the breakfast nook or a bedroom, no space is free from up-cycled furniture, DIY project pieces, art, or printed photographs of Aniko’s. Even outside in the backyard, handmade pallet furniture and accessories make up the fabric of their daily lives.

Color and layering textures is something Aniko never shies away from, and giving her children a fun space to feel free in is what home is all about. Despite their busy lives, and some of the more superficial annoyances of the home (such as two smaller living rooms rather than one large room), having a private space in which the whole family can feel comfortable is paramount. Nothing is too precious in Aniko’s home — except for those whom she shares it with. Sabrina

Photography by Aniko Levai Photography

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In Turkey, A Home Layered with Prints, Colors and Kilims

A Home in Turkey Layered with Prints, Colors and Kilims | Design*Sponge

In Turkey, A Home Layered with Prints, Colors and Kilims

Vintage Turkish rugs are in high demand in this long-lasting age of transitional-modern and bohemian design. The right pattern, color palette and texture in a kilim fabric can instantly bring a space to life. In Turkey, these textiles are not just a trend — they are a traditional, symbolic and integral facet of each space.

Nez and Yasin Kaya’s love of vintage rugs started on the day of their engagement when Yasin brought a kilim to Nez’s mother to ask for Nez’s hand in marriage. It grew when Yasin came home one day and announced in excitement that they would start selling rugs together; just as he had done as a boy with his father and grandfather. Now, Nez and Yasin Kaya are the founders of Kaya Kilims, an online store (and Instagram account) that sells gorgeous, handmade vintage textiles. Their successful business has allowed them to become homeowners of a flat large enough for their family and their growing collection of kilims.

When looking for a home, Nez and Yasin walked around each neighborhood in Kayseri, Turkey to determine where they’d like to live with their two daughters, Selin and Suel. When the couple stumbled upon this flat on accident, Nez and Yasin both felt a happiness and peace about the space. They spent time remodeling and designing the home before moving in. The flat’s high ceilings, large windows and hardwood floors make it a perfect backdrop for the remarkable colors, patterns and textures of their stunning kilim rugs and pillows. “Most items in our home are vintage and handmade that I collected from different parts of Turkey,” Nez says. “And of course, rugs are everywhere!”

Nez and Yasin’s home clearly reflects their passion. Their love for these handmade pieces is not about following trends, but living in a space that inspires them. “It is lovely that we all can follow famous designers and learn so many things from them,” Nez says. “But the most beautiful home is the one that also has your own unique ideas, special corners and — most important — things with a story. Point to anything in my home and I will tell [you] something about it. Rugs inspire me. Just look at any of them – so many symbols, so many colors – it is crazy but beautiful how they match one another!” –Lauren

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Family Bonding Atop a Brooklyn Brownstone

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Family Bonding Atop a Brooklyn Brownstone

Sarah Coffey first visited the Carroll Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY while covering a home makeover for Apartment Therapy. Vibrant, charming and filled with an abundance of brownstones, the area had Sarah immediately hooked. After the project wrapped, she would fantasize about moving there, not sure if it would ever actually happen — but it did. Her chance came when two close friends bought a three-story brownstone in the neighborhood and were on the hunt for a tenant. Needless to say, Sarah and her husband Steve jumped at the opportunity to leave their Upper West Side home and make the move.

With a resume that includes West Elm and Apartment Therapy, it’s no surprise that Sarah was able to quickly settle the family into the top floor of the walk-up. Her years working for the two brands taught her how to focus on curating a space that “feels good” and to avoid the fruitless act of chasing trends. Her knowledge of decluttering and home-cleansing also helped shape the house. “Traditional practices of moving [energy that’s] stuck, like [sage] smudging and using things like salt and sound to purify a space,” has proven to be invaluable when life gets hectic. Sarah developed such a passion for the practice that she recently opened up her own home-clearing business where she teaches “…mindful methods of clearing space, inside and out.”

These home-clearing methods in particular came in handy a year and a half ago when Sarah and Steve had their first child. Since baby Jack’s arrival, the Coffeys have gone about stylishly baby-proofing each room in their 115-year-old apartment, as well as cleansing the space so their little boy can flourish. As you click through the tour, pay close attention to the beautiful job the couple’s done switching up the rooms in the house. With a little elbow grease, they have strategically crafted a new bedroom out of a living space and seamlessly moved Jack into their old bedroom. All in all, the bright and cheery top-floor abode is primed for memory making, and the Coffey family couldn’t be more delighted. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Nick Steever

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Embracing An Indian Aesthetic

A potent shot of chai or tea, served in small iconic glasses - commonly sold in shacks on the streets of Calcutta and across India - served as inspiration for Calcutta-based designers Syu's and Jit Art Studio's range of illustrated, block printed products, "Cutting Chai."

Embracing An Indian Aesthetic

The Indian design scene is looking better than ever — in my opinion, this is because India is finally embracing its own unique position within the industry and creative worth.

There was a time when the Indian design industry — fashion and product — would try to mimic the West, shying away from an Indian aesthetic with the view that West was best. It has been a long time coming, but I am absolutely reveling in the trend of Indian designers celebrating the nuances of their homeland.

This playful feature looks at designers using India-centric narratives in contemporary design and the specific vernacular of their regions; for once, design made in India for Indians. Scarves printed with various amusing neighborhood characters on their morning walks in Calcutta, embroidered cushions detailing the chaotic tapestry of rush hour, and product details that update traditional Indian design like the ubiquitous woven “Muddah” stool. —Rohini

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18 Indie Embroidered Patch Companies

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18 Indie Embroidered Patch Companies

I thought it would be fun to end the week with a roundup of creatives you can follow and learn more about through the weekend. Over the past few weeks, we’ve shared lists of some of our favorite paper flower makersembroiderers, and museums online, and today I’m happy to add one more roundup to the list: creative and up-and-coming indie embroidered patch makers. From cats and mantras to abstract art and hands, these designers have turned the combination of everyday imagery and powerful words into must-have patches. Whether you attach them to your jacket, purse, backpack, or frame them on the wall, these artists are making us rethink the way we look at the humble patch. Instead of curating this roundup myself, I turned to one of my favorite artists — and patch makers — Tuesday Bassen. Take it away, Tuesday! xo, grace

A beautiful thing is happening in the fashion world: Patches are having a serious moment, and it is primarily driven by artist-operated small businesses. Embraced by the DIY scene and major outlets alike, these quick and cheap ways to personalize your clothing range from riffs on classic 1970s designs to pieces of original artwork. Featured here (just click through the slideshow above) are 18 of my favorite independent companies that are on the forefront of the patch trend. —Tuesday Bassen

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Sarah and Sheila’s Pickled Crostini Toppings

Sarah and Sheila’s Pickled Crostini Toppings

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Just like my own efforts at staying on a healthy eating regimen, we are taking a break from our wholesome habits to lapse into some great snack food. Sarah and Sheila from Gordy’s Pickle Jar have shared their three favorite toppings for crostini: Cherry Pepper Caponata, Pickled Egg Salad and Prosciutto, and Caramelized Pickled Jalapeño. I think these would make a unique entertaining spread full of flavors you don’t find every day. Though Sarah and Sheila are obviously partial to Gordy’s Pickles, we have provided substitutions so that you can make these recipes wherever you are. —Kristina

Why Sarah and Sheila love these recipes: We love putting stuff on toast!

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A Well-Loved 1950s Home in Nashville, TN

A 1950s Home Loved Well in Nashville | Design*Sponge

A Well-Loved 1950s Home in Nashville, TN

Shruthi and Peter Lapp knew this house was theirs from the moment they entered, and they’ve since refreshed and polished it bit by bit. After two years of living there, their home — a soon-to-be Airbnb listing — is allowing them to travel extensively, thanks to their future short-term renters. In their own words, Shruthi, a digital marketer, and Peter, an information security engineer, just want to be together. And whether “together” is in Nashville, TN or abroad, their home is allowing them to do just that.

The 1955 ranch was maintained incredibly well by the previous owners and the couple knew it was a perfect fit when they found the house. “We instantly felt a peace and calm come over us when we stepped into this home,” Shruthi says. “Both of us are natural-light-lovers, but in addition to that, we could actually feel how loved this house was! That’s really all we were looking for. A place to make our own and just be together.” The pair learned to paint walls, added their style to the space, and made the house feel quite homey.

Shruthi and Peter’s aesthetic is modern-meets-minimal, mixed with vintage touches. Their use of art and decorative pieces is executed both sparingly and beautifully. “We really wanted this home to reflect both us as individuals and who we are together. Our goal for this home was for it to be inviting, simple, airy with pops of color and global inspiration. We wanted each room to tell a little part of our story,” Shruthi says. “We’re both travel obsessed. New places and things inspire us more than anything else. We are currently getting ready to take the trip of a lifetime together for an entire year!” It’s remarkable how a home can allow Shruthi and Peter to grow closer together, whether physically there, or away. –Lauren

Photography by Amber Ulmer

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What’s In Your Toolbox: Naima Green

What’s In Your Toolbox: Naima Green

What's In Your Toolbox: Naima Green, on Design*Sponge

Staying true to the original intentions of a project or body of work does not always come easily. Naima Green, a Brooklyn-based artist, arts educator, and photographer, refuses to compromise her creative output “for likes or followers or fame.” Her Jewels from the Hinterland image series “investigates questions of place, belonging, and perceived cultural identity within the African Diaspora.” She has shot portraits of over 70 artists of color “feeling at ease in natural green spaces, regions where black and brown urbanites are not ‘supposed’ to be at home: our hinterlands.” This effort helps Naima process her own place in the world, and gives her purpose. Above all things and motivations, she urges each individual to “make art for yourself.”

Enjoying the more collaborative aspects of setting up home and studio, Naima shops with purpose, talking with artisans and sellers about their goods. Not surprisingly, she leans toward handmade or vintage items rather than mass-produced products. “I like objects and clothes with stories and histories,” she says. Her entryway full of antiques was styled with a little help from her (and our) friend Sadatu Dennis, making the decorating process a heightened experience. Her newest collaboration, photographing Annie Novak’s first book, The Rooftop Growing Guide, will reveal Naima’s latest efforts next month. —Annie

Photography by Naima Green

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