Get Your Garden On (Despite the Snow)

Get Your Garden On (Despite the Snow)

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On the eve of winter storm Stella, I’m completely looking forward to doing some more garden planning by the wood stove while the snow comes down. I have to keep my motivation high lest I sneak under the covers until it’s actually green outside, so today I’m sharing some of the things in my garden-to-be scrapbook. It’s my first spring at my first home so yes, I’m excited!

I am reading as much as I can to make sure I don’t go over budget with things I don’t actually need the first time around. We’re planning a small 10′ x 10′ vegetable plot with fencing, and a small flower cutting garden, which is taking up most of my research time. If you have any tips for either endeavors, please share them with me in the comments. Please. I’m in West Virginia in USDA Garden Zone 6A and yes, we have deer. In the meantime, enjoy these decidedly spring treats and the books I’m reading during the big snow. –Caitlin

Image above, clockwise from top left: Floret Farms Cut Flower Book $30, Straw Hat $55, Cow Pots  $8, Tool Set $25, Tray $21, Hose $59 , Twine $10, Knee Pad $40, Dahlia Bulbs $12

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Image above, clockwise from top left: The Humane Gardner $25, Herbs & Flowers $13, My Garden (5 Year Journal) $20 , Virginia Woolf’s Garden $28 , The Secret Garden $8, The Produce Companion $40

Click through for eight more picks and some serious garden inspiration!

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Let’s Talk About Pom Poms

Let’s Talk About Pom Poms

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Growing up, pom poms were something I ran away from at all costs. I associated them with little kids and I wanted to seem as grown up as possible. So while all my friends were having fun attaching them to their backpacks and shoes, I was trying to convince myself that what I really wanted was all-black everything and no fuzzy detailing. But now that I’m 35 and (mostly) know better than to worry about how old or young I seem, I feel ready to give them another shake. And thankfully, they’re everywhere right now. From fluffy shoe toppers and bag decorations to cushy blankets and pillows, pom poms are popping up everywhere in the design world and I’m ready to say YES. So today I’m celebrating 12 of my favorite pom pom designs to bring a little color and fun into these grey winter months. xo, grace

Image above, clockwise from top left: Pom Pom Basket $98, Moroccan Cote d’Azur Pillow Sham $275, Orange Pom Pom Earrings $198, Pom Pom Sneakers $100, Pom Pom Bag Charm $35, Pom Pom Storage Bins $58+, Pom Pom Earrings $58, Pom Pom Clutch $250, Pom Pom Blanket $495

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Images above: Left, Sian Keegan’s “Pom Pom” fabric pattern $10.50 per yard at Spoonflower, Right, Pom Pom Curtains $78+ at Anthropologie

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Image above: Pom Pom Pillow $20

The Colorful New Chapter of a Charming Victorian

The Colorful New Chapter of a Charming Victorian | Design*Sponge

The Colorful New Chapter of a Charming Victorian

When Natalie and Alan Papier began looking for a new home for their family, the diverse and welcoming Oak Park neighborhood just outside of Chicago, IL stole their hearts. The area boasts a wonderful mix of architecture, from numerous Frank Lloyd Wright houses to 19th-century Victorian homes. With an active arts community, easy access to the city and a charming downtown area, the couple couldn’t think of a better place to settle down. It was eventually a charming Victorian in the Pleasant historic district that would become home.

Natalie, a home stylist, and Alan, an investment analyst, met 12 years ago back when Alan was the singer in a band, and happened to be playing in their hometown one night. The couple’s love for music and arts has prevailed throughout their years together, and has filtered down to their kids Kellen and Maddie, as well as their home. Their old Victorian is truly an extension of all things creative, decorated with unique pieces that create a cozy and inviting vibe. “There are no decorating rules here. It just has to feel good,” Natalie explains.

Built in 1883, their three-floor house has all the quirks that you would expect of a 19th-century home. “It’s a drafty old house but full of charm and all the things we love,” Natalie shares. “Things are always falling apart and needing updating a little at a time. We envision a full kitchen reno and mudroom addition in the next couple of years,” she adds. The biggest project that Natalie and Alan have taken on so far has been the attic conversion, which they completed in the fall of last year. The raw and unfinished space was turned into a family room, complete with a kitchenette. The project turned out to be well worth it, as the attic is now an ideal entertaining space for the kids and the perfect spot for family movie nights.

The family’s home naturally reflects Natalie’s fun and unique style and her love for decorating. From the bold poppy print wallpaper in the entry, to the emerald colored velvet sofa in the lounge, it’s clear that Natalie isn’t afraid of big statements. The common thread throughout the home is her creative use of color, pattern and texture in a way that feels cohesive and most of all, happy. Since moving in five years ago, making the house a home has become an ongoing process that will probably never end — as time goes by, the family can evolve and change with the house, becoming part of its story, just as much as it becomes part of theirs. Sofia

Photography by Marcela Rafea | Kitchen and dining table shots by Natalie Papier

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The President’s Kitchen Cabinet by Adrian Miller

The President’s Kitchen Cabinet by Adrian Miller

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Even the busiest people in the world need to eat, and knowing how a good meal can serve as brain power, there’s no denying that food can energize, sustain, and certainly comfort those who need it. Today we’re focusing on a fascinating new project by Adrian Miller, his newly released book The President’s Kitchen Cabinet: The Story of the African Americans Who Have Fed Our First Families, From the Washingtons to the Obamas. Adrian, a food author and soul food scholar, combed through the stories of more than 150 black men and women who cooked in the White House kitchen throughout history — from George Washington’s “onions done in the Brazilian way” to a controversial beanless chili prepared for Lyndon Johnson — to shine light on how food played an important role in major events.

Including 20 recipes from black chefs who cooked in the presidential food service over the years, Adrian’s book celebrates those who nurtured the nation’s presidents while examining how the pivotal role of food-related work changed and developed for African Americans from before Emancipation to present day.

Today we’re thrilled to have Adrian tell us more about his book, the special stories he uncovered, and food’s meaningful influence on past presidencies. He’s also sharing a Jerk Chicken Pizza Recipe — beloved by Bill Clinton! — and it’s easy enough for anyone to make (White House chef or home cook novice). Check out my Q&A with Adrian and the recipe after the jump, and you can order a copy of his book here. —Kelli

All photography courtesy of Adrian Miller

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Window Shopping: Budget-Friendly Bohemian

Window Shopping: Budget-Friendly Bohemian

Window Shopping on Design*SpongeJoey and Mark’s dreamy Victorian is bursting with color, texture and a variety of pattern styles. Each room is designed around an inspiring statement piece that sets the tone of the space and contributes to the eclectic feeling of the home. The couple owns Ball & Claw Vintage and carries their love of vintage home by mixing colorful textiles, large artwork, and plant life that makes guests feel as if they are walking through a museum every time they visit. Their thoughtful approach to color is visible in every room and blends seamlessly with their collection of vintage pieces and unique compositions. Joey and Mark know how to find great décor and have spent countless weekends tracking down the pieces that fill their beautifully curated home.

So where are the places we can go to find stylish and affordable décor? I often find myself on Etsy, Craigslist or scouring thrift stores and estate sales to discover discarded items that I can love. Joey and Mark’s space proves that repurposing vintage items is a great way to create a home with a reduced price tag. We all have different levels of affordability and a difference of opinion on what we feel is a valuable investment based on our own means. Some value a well-made coffee table or original artwork, while others would rather splurge on fresh bed linens. Some would gawk at spending over $20 on a pillow, and someone else could consider a striking textile worth a little extra cash. A personal goal of mine is to build the type of home that considers each item with a high level of questioning before making a purchase. I like to ask myself; where is this going to live and what is its purpose, and is this something I will find beautiful in five to ten years? The lists below are intended to provide examples of products that can help achieve a look similar to Joey and Mark’s space, with fewer dollars. —Bethany

Window Shopping on Design*Sponge
Palette 1 – Bedroom
A. Malted (Behr), Pantone 4755 C; B. Raphael (Benjamin Moore), Pantone 7616 C; C. Caramel Toffee (Valspar), Pantone 729 C; D. Peach Medley (Glidden), Pantone 1555 C; E. Construction Zone (Behr), Pantone 1575 C

Roundup 1 – Bedroom
1. Devanagri Orange Cushion, $12; 2. Pattern Throw $84.40; 3. Tejn Rug $14.99; 4. Swedish Woven Tapestry $35; 5. Mid Century Modern End Table $94.99; 6. Mexico Travel Poster $10.90; 7. Fjellse Bed Frame $89.99; 8. Chandelier Pendant $108.98; 9. Terracotta Planter $35; 10. Gold Task Lamp $23.99

See two more rooms from Joey and Mark’s home — and ideas to pull off a similar look — after the jump!

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A Melbourne, Australia Home for Creative Collectors

A Melbourne, Australia Home for Creative Collectors, on Design*Sponge

A Melbourne, Australia Home for Creative Collectors

After Australian artist Silvia Rotundo and husband Frank lived in their Yarraville, Melbourne home for nearly 15 years, the couple decided it was time to give their adorable 1941 clinker brick abode a much-needed expansion. When they first found it, they had both wanted a home in which to enjoy the things they love  music, cooking, and all types of creativity. They sought out old-world character and charm, as well as old bones that they could eventually extend and renovate to their liking. A few years ago, it was clear the time had come to carry out their original intentions. Silvia was then working as an interior decorator and painting as a hobby in a garage that needed major repairs. The couple decided to design a new extension that included a home studio for Silvia. Having this new creative space recently inspired her to make art a full-time career, taking the plunge to pursue a lifelong passion. “I am so happy I did,” she reflects. The modular extension is clad in black shiplap timber that can’t be seen from the front of the property. “It’s a little surprise for when people enter the home,” Silvia adds. “We like that it’s not obvious.”

Along with delighting their guests through design, homemade baked goods, or a hot cup of tea, Silvia and Frank adore their seven-year-old toy poodle Sofia  often taking leisurely walks with her along a nearby beach. “I’ve heard that a house is not a home without a dog, and now I truly believe this is true.” Rather than moving to accommodate their needs, the family wanted to stay put in their location close to the city and near the water. “It’s a very creative neighborhood with lots of musicians and artists,” Silvia reflects. “The local village is filled with wonderful shops, cafes, and its own little old-world cinema.” Since living there, Silvia has felt like she’s found her community. As for Frank, he grew up in Yarraville and just knew Silvia belonged there. “He is a quiet man with a beautiful heart… his knowledge of the music world is so vast. He’s an inspiration in so many ways,” Silvia gushes about her husband.

In regards to decorating, the couple wanted a functional space filled with memories, treasures, and art. They designed the home so that everything has its place. They were thorough in creating clear zones for work, relaxation, dining, and cooking, and were sure to create a warm environment where friends would feel instantly relaxed. They find their own peace in surrounding themselves with keepsakes from childhoods, and collecting furniture pieces and artwork that tell a story. Silvia designed a butler’s pantry with open shelving to house crockery and glassware that was passed down to her and Frank from their mothers. “We build on these memories with things we find along the way, and with gifts our friends give us,” she shares. “Everything is considered and nothing is mass-produced.” Perhaps not surprisingly, Silvia and Frank often source items from flea markets and artisans to support makers and develop a home that facilitates meaningful conversation. Though she claims to lead a simple life, Silvia’s riches seem to be as bountiful as her spirit. —Annie

Photography by Silvia Rotundo

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How to Make Fresh Flowers Last with Erin from Floret + Best of the Web

How to Make Fresh Flowers Last with Erin from Floret + Best of the Web

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I’m thrilled to wrap up the week with some helpful advice from Erin Benzakein of Floret. Erin published her very first book this week (congrats!), Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden, and we’re so thrilled to share not just a peek inside the book, but some practical advice from Erin on how to make your fresh cut flowers last longer. I thought I knew the main rules, but several of her insider tips (like conditioning flowers before arranging) are new to me and so helpful. Fresh flowers are one of my favorite indulgences, so anything I can do to make them last longer and look fresher, I’m up for. Read on after the jump to hear about all of Erin’s tips and her new book, which you can now order here online! xo, grace

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In the Kitchen With: Melissa Clark’s Sticky Tamarind Chicken

In the Kitchen With: Melissa Clark’s Sticky Tamarind Chicken

Sticky Tamarind Chicken with Crisp Lettuce

Food writer and cookbook author Melissa Clark’s name is synonymous with easy-to-make, delicious food, in my book. When I heard the news that Melissa’s new book, Dinner, would be coming out this year, I was counting down the days until its release. Upon opening the book, I was immediately drawn to the Sticky Tamarind Chicken with Crisp Lettuce recipe because it includes many of the flavors I so love in Asian food. If you don’t already keep fish sauce, tamarind paste, and sesame oil in your pantry, now’s the time to start! This incredibly easy recipe comes together in 40 minutes, including cooking time. A perfect recipe to add to your arsenal! —Kristina

Why Melissa loves this recipe: The joy of this recipe really rests in the tamarind paste. Just one dab lends such a brightness that’s both mouth-puckering-ly tart, but also fruity and sweet. It also lasts forever in the fridge after you open the jar. So it’s a handy ingredient to keep around. In this recipe, it really gives these juicy roasted chicken thighs a lift, making them highly complex without actually requiring you to do any work. I just love recipes that do that.

Dinner by Melissa Clark

Food photography by Eric Wolfinger | Portrait by Amy Dickerson

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Rebecca Atwood Pattern Download: Day 5

Rebecca Atwood Pattern Download: Day 5

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It’s been such a pleasure spending my mornings with Rebecca Atwood’s beautiful patterns all week. I’ve become such a fan of hers and can’t wait to see her hand embroidered collection in person. It’s been great to see her signature style live on in the form of patterns we can all download and use for all of our digital screens. Today she’s sharing one more pattern, a painterly blue one you just want to dive into. —Caitlin

CLICK HERE to download today’s vertical pattern and here to download the horizontal pattern.

You can see all of this week’s patterns by Rebecca here: Monday, TuesdayWednesday and Thursday. Visit her website to see more of her work here, and follow her on Instagram here.

Q&A: Creative Process, Inspiration, & Securing a Caldecott Honor with Carson Ellis

Q & A with Carson Ellis for Design*Sponge

Q&A: Creative Process, Inspiration, & Securing a Caldecott Honor with Carson Ellis

My favorite part of my day is reading to my four-year-old before bed each night. We cuddle together and each of us gets lost in the story. He loves when I make funny voices for the characters or if it’s a book about science, plants or architecture. Well, two years ago, a book called Home by Carson Ellis sent us for a loop. We loved it! We read it nightly, for weeks. And people must have us pegged, too, because we have received it as a gift three times. So, when I went to my local children’s bookstore last year and saw that there was a new Carson Ellis book, Du Iz Tak?, I had to get it for my son for Christmas. I didn’t know it at the time, but it’s a beautiful story combining both ecology and architecture. A win-win for us.

When I was asked to interview Carson for Design*Sponge, I jumped at the chance. Of course I’d love to ask one of my favorite children’s book writers and illustrators a few questions — and fresh off her win for the 2017 Caldecott Honor for Du Iz Tak?, no less. It’s truly an honor to give you a peek into the creative working days of Carson Ellis. See my interview with her after the jump. —Erin

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Just the Essentials + Dry Shampoo Recipe & Giveaway

Just the Essentials + Dry Shampoo Recipe & Giveaway

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Spring is awakening my senses and I’ve found myself at the start of my yearly ritual of a self-care spring refresh. While others are swapping out pillows and cleaning grout, I’m doing the same things, but with my body. Sure, I’ll get to the home refresh later, but right now, it’s me first. Adina Grigore’s new book, Just the Essentials: How Essential Oils Can Heal Your Skin, Improve Your Health and Detox Your Life, arrived in my life at the perfect time.

Adina is the founder and CEO of the all-natural, sustainable skin-care line, S.W. Basics and a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She’s also somewhat of a renaissance woman, having actively worked in the wellness field as a holistic nutritionist, personal trainer and workshop coordinator. In short, Adina has some serious credentials.

The thing I love about her book is the super-friendly, accessible approach to a topic that can veer into dry commentary and instruction. Just the Essentials keeps it real and gives the basics, plus benefits of each essential oil used in the book. Adina’s history of plant-based beauty was a great refresher course for me and certainly a must-read chapter for anyone considering upping their self-care game as the season transitions. For example, did you know cinnamon oil can be used to ease headache (even migraine) pains?

Today we’re sharing a well-worth-making dry shampoo recipe from Adina’s book, which I just happen to be wearing today (and probably every other day for the rest of my life). Most moms out there are probably familiar with every dirty hair hack out there — I know I am, but I’m permanently moving to this recipe because it not only works, but I get to smell a little like a Peppermint Patty every day! We’re also lucky to be giving away a copy of the book and S.W. Basics skin care kit. (Thanks Adina!) To enter the giveaway, click through for the details after the recipe.

P.S. If the book cover design looks familiar to you, it probably is! The designer, Libby VanderPloeg, is one of our favorite illustrators and the artist behind our awesome In the Company of Women tote bag and promotional materials. Libby also is the illustrator of our Design Icon and Style Icon series. Take a peek at the video Libby made for the book launch. You’ll love it!

Adina’s products are available at Target and on the S.W. Basics website. —Caitlin

Photography courtesy of Adina Grigore

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Rebecca Atwood Pattern Download: Day 4

Rebecca Atwood Pattern Download: Day 4

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The weather here in West Virginia today is sunny and 60 degrees, so this pattern download from Rebecca Atwood is going on my phone after I pen this post! There’s something about orange that reminds me of summer, not fall. I think it has to do with that giant 64-pack of Crayola crayons I had as a kid. I just couldn’t get enough of the orange and yellow crayons for all of the suns I drew on rainy days! Orange smells like Coppertone sun tan lotion, Dreamsicles and orange slices at lunchtime. And after a long winter, I’m so good with that. –Caitlin

CLICK HERE to download today’s vertical design and here for the horizontal version.

You can check out Rebecca’s patterns from earlier this week: Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Visit her website to see more of her work here, and on Instagram, too.

A Fabric Covered Garden Journal DIY For Spring

A Fabric Covered Garden Journal DIY For Spring

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I’m always excited to start seeds indoors for late spring planting, but this year I’m taking it to a whole new level and actually planning my first vegetable and cutting flower garden. I’ve been poring over seed catalogues for about two months and I’ve already tilled the two plots. Now I’m at the planning stage, and as a novice, I’m going through a lot of paper. To keep my motivation up (and to keep all my notes and thoughts in one place), I made some fabric covered notebooks to stay organized. Of course, these personalized notebooks are great for just about anything, from dream journals to “someday” wish lists. This year I’m determined to get my hollyhocks started and dedicate an entire area in the flower garden to old-fashioned flowers, so I chose a bright, vintage-y print for my garden journal! –Caitlin

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Click through for the full instructions to make your own fabric covered notebooks!

*This post is brought to you in collaboration with Waverly Inspirations. This project, ideas, and words are from us here at D*S and were created by us, for you. Thanks for supporting our sponsors that help us create and publish original content like this. The Waverly Inspirations collection is available at Walmart.

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A Floral Designer’s Peaceful Abode in Portland, OR

Floral Designer Sarah Blasai Shares Her Portland Apartment On Design*Sponge

A Floral Designer’s Peaceful Abode in Portland, OR

Sarah Blasi, owner of SELVA Floral Design, lives in an old 1920s farmhouse-turned-apartment in the small southeast Portland, OR neighborhood of Sellwood, with her cat, Ellie. Sarah has the upstairs 500 square feet of the bisected house, which includes a bedroom and living room. She has been in her apartment for the past three years, the last two of which included taking a leap of faith and quitting her full-time job to fully pursue her boutique floral design company — after she had been doing floral design for over 10 years! Sarah describes her beautiful wedding and event design work as, “unstructured, abundant and organic in nature and inspired by the ever-changing seasons.” She is passionate about using sustainably grown flowers and foliage, of which she gathers from the small flower farm she runs with her mom, in addition to other local farms.

To say that Sarah’s leap of faith has paid off would be an understatement. Not only is she happy to be able to do what she loves every day (and what she doesn’t love — “managing the books”), but it has afforded her the time to pursue her other favorite pastimes: making her own lotions and scrubs, creating essential oil blends for herself and friends, dancing, yoga, Barre3, and “eating a lot of Mexican food!”

Three years ago Sarah was just moving back to Portland, and her boyfriend at the time tipped her off to this great apartment on Craigslist. As soon as she saw it, she fell in love. If the incredible natural light that streams through the original windows wasn’t enough, the adorable neighborhood cinched the deal. Sellwood is close enough to downtown to be convenient, but far enough that her neighborhood is still quiet and peaceful. The waterfront, walking paths, and shopping are all within walking distance. Sarah says that she really feels like she could stay there forever.

While Sarah shares that there are some things she would change in her apartment if she wasn’t renting — like the kitchen countertops and appliances, and the kitchen and bathroom flooring — she still loves her home and says that it’s, “very comfortable, inviting, and energetically clear.” Self-described as not being very organized, and also a collector, Sarah fills her petite home with treasures from flea markets, or her travels (which is where much of her pottery and textiles came from), dried flowers she designed from events that were too beautiful to throw away, and books. Most of Sarah’s decorating is inspired from her being born raised in New Mexico as well as traveling to Mexico and South America.

Sarah has found that being very intentional with what she brings into her small space works the best for her; she has family heirlooms in her bedroom, items from local makers hanging on her walls, and as you might imagine, flowers are always in her home. When she works from home, her living room becomes her studio, the bathroom her cooler, and occasionally Ellie jumps onto the table on which she’s working and knocks over an arrangement. Despite the occasional chaos, the lack of ample shelving, or space, it’s unapologetically Sarah’s. The home is hers to create in, decorate, and share with her family and friends (and their dogs). —Rebekah

Photography by Benjamin Holtrop

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Rebecca Atwood Pattern Download: Day 3

Rebecca Atwood Pattern Download: Day 3

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Today’s pattern download from Rebecca Atwood is shibori at its best. It also sets the perfect mood for today’s misty, watery weather here on the east coast. Be sure to check out Rebecca’s website to explore more of her captivating work. —Caitlin

CLICK HERE to download today’s horizontal pattern and the vertical pattern here. If you missed Rebecca’s Day 1 & Day 2 patterns, hop over and see them!

*These patterns are available for personal use only.

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