An East Village Home Where Dreams Are Stored

Anne Sheldon-Duplaix's Home Tour for Design*Sponge

An East Village Home Where Dreams Are Stored

This is a story of what happens when we hold on to our dreams. It begins with a steamer trunk. An enormous trunk with a 1950s sticker reading “Liberté,” to be exact, that once belonged to Anne Sheldon-Duplaix’s grandparents and accompanied them on countless moves back and forth between New York and Europe. On ocean liners bound for Geneva, Washington, Rome, New York, and Paris, her grandparents hauled the trunk along, storing their worldly possessions in it. Anne’s parents later inherited the trunk and placed it in their country home in the North of France. The family heirloom was passed on to Anne, who moved it to her home in Paris. There she began filling it with fabrics, “an ikat from a trip to Bali, ginghams from the Marché Saint Pierre in Montmartre, indigoes friends brought back from Japan, handwoven khadis sent from a friend in India… At the time, I was a writer but I longed to make clothes and nestled my dreams into the trunk.” Anne and her husband Nicolas, a designer and consultant, eventually moved with the steamer trunk from Paris to San Francisco where Anne studied fashion design. Anne continued collecting fabrics, storing them in her beloved trunk. In 2008 the couple moved to New York City. But Anne was still too busy, now designing for companies, and continued putting off her dream. “One day, I’ll do something with these fabrics, I kept telling myself. One day!”

And then one day Anne opened the steamer trunk. She took out the fabrics she had so lovingly and thoughtfully collected through the years and began sewing clothes for her daughter Emma. Eventually, she made clothes for others. Today Anne owns an online shop, L’Éditeur, where she sells children’s clothing made from the fabrics in her steamer trunk. Anne’s once nestled dream has become a reality. Each dress or shirt she designs and sews in her East Village, NYC home is a treasure, the result of years spent hoping and holding on to her “promising fabrics.”

It should come as no surprise that Anne, Nicolas, and Emma’s home, located in a 1928 Art Deco building, is itself a thoughtfully collected treasure. The apartment has windows in every room, including the two bathrooms and closet, and faces south. “Even though we’re in the middle of Manhattan, it’s really quiet. We face the backyard and we can hear the birds singing from the trees growing in front of our windows, and the bells from the church nearby… Closing your eyes, you could be in the countryside (with a few sirens in the distance).” The couple also loves that they can walk everywhere downtown, taking the train or a cab only when going uptown to a museum or Central Park. Inside and out, their home is a creative weaving of city and country.

But the tranquil, luminous space Anne and Nicolas have created was once a patchwork of colors and textures. There were at least five different floor finishes and colored walls everywhere. Anne and Nicolas worked with a contractor and stripped down the layers of floor finishes to the original concrete. A super thin layer of fresh concrete was poured throughout the home (with the exception of the bathrooms). They also painted the walls, beams, and steam pipes a uniform white, Benjamin Moore’s Decorator White, and installed an IKEA kitchen. The result is a foundation that is both simple and versatile, drawing one’s eye to walls filled with art made mostly by family and friends and objects that have traveled with Anne and Nicolas across ocean and nation, following in the legacy of her grandparents. Anne’s story is proof of what happens when we hold on to our dreams, nestling them someplace safe and sacred, until the day we can finally open them up. —Liberty

Photography by Anne Sheldon-Duplaix 

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Windy Chien’s Inspiring Knots + Best of the Web

Windy Chien’s Inspiring Knots + Best of the Web

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Over the break, I was talking about life and business with my dad, who also runs his own company. We were discussing up years and down years and all of the various phases of business, motivation and inspiration you go through as you evolve. I was talking about this next chapter of Design*Sponge and what I wanted it to look and feel like, and he said, “What if you went back to what you used to talk about all the time, like new artists and profiles?” I’ve always loved profiling artists and designers here (and always will), but sometimes I forget it’s okay to occasionally post the way I used to — short, sweet “Isn’t this cool?” posts — rather than spending a few days or weeks gathering detailed information (although that’s helpful, too). So when I came across Windy Chien’s “Year of Knots” project I thought it would be a great way to close out the week and possibly inspire some yarn or rope-related DIY projects. Windy spent a year devoted to the daily ritual of creating and photographing beautiful nautical knots. She said, “Knots are a new language. Every new knot is like learning another letter in the alphabet.” I love the idea of combining a tactile craft/skill with a little bit of a history or lesson. Click here to check out her website and here to check out her daily knot project on Instagram. Until Monday, have a safe and happy weekend! xo, grace

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  • Why not indulge in a little fancy-bathroom window shopping? One Kings Lane did a nice roundup of uber-chic bathrooms with some amazing wallpaper and color.
  • Yes, please, more of this! Wendy McNaughton and Julia Rothman created a resource website, Women Who Draw, where you can discover/hire women and gender-non-conforming people for illustration work. The site highlights people of color, people from the LGBTQ community and from different religious backgrounds. This is one of the most positive solutions to the very big problem of women (especially women of color, etc.) not being hired as often as other artists.
  • Holiday schmoliday, it’s never the wrong time of year for spiced molasses cookies.
  • I want to see the world through florist Doan Ly’s eyes at all time. She manages to always find the sparkle and the perfect shade of blue and pink in life.
  • Have you seen Moonlight yet? No? Get thee to a movie theater, post haste! It was the best film I saw in 2016 and the acting team was basically a dream come true.
  • I redid our dining room chairs (with some Japanese indigo fabric) in an impatient fit right before New Year’s Eve. Hence, my ode to the humble but all-powerful staple gun.

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New Year, New YouOur Team 2017 New Year Resolutions7 Work Goals for 2017: What I Learned from In the Company of WomenWelcome New Customers With A Great First Impression

InspirationYOUR Most Inspiring Images of 2016What’s In Your Toolbox: Lorraine Nam

Interiors and DesignA Missouri Home With A Storied PastThe Tula Plant Truck Hits the RoadBefore & After: A Modern, Wheelchair-Accessible Bathroom

DIY3 DIYs that celebrate Growth in the New Year

Food & DrinkMolly Yeh’s Chocolate Tahini Cake

 

 

7 Work Goals for 2017: What I Learned from In the Company of Women

7 Work Goals for 2017: What I Learned from In the Company of Women

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I always like each new year to feel like a clean, fresh start. Like a crisp page break or an obvious place to wipe the slate clean. But this year doesn’t feel that way to me. It feels, in some ways, like a pause to collect myself and to continue with the work I started doing last year. Making In the Company of Women, hitting the road to connect with our community of female entrepreneurs and makers and getting to see real change start to happen because of that project has been the thing I am most proud of in my 12-year career at Design*Sponge. In the Company of Women speaks to who I am now at 35, what is most important to me and the type of work and connecting I want to do going forward.

So this year I’m continuing that momentum by setting 7 clear work goals I’d like to accomplish, inspired by what I learned from the women and the momentum this book and book tour are a part of. In addition to sharing these goals publicly (so I hold myself accountable), I’d love to hear what YOUR work goals are this year. Big ones, small ones, and everything in between — what are YOU hoping to achieve this year? Click through to read mine below and please share yours in the comment section, too! xo, grace

Goal #1: To dream big and ask for what I really want. I have spent most of my life wishing and hoping for certain things to come true, without having the nerve to ask for them directly. This book was the result of me finally putting my heart on the table, taking a risk and saying, “This is exactly what I want to do, no ifs, ands or buts.” Image of Carrie Brownstein (and hand lettering) from the book taken by @mabuhaydiy.

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Molly Yeh’s Chocolate Tahini Cake

Molly Yeh’s Chocolate Tahini Cake

Chocolate Tahini Cake from Molly on The Range | DesignSponge

Usually our first In the Kitchen With post in January promotes a return to “healthy” eating. I decided to break with tradition this year and post a cake recipe. Before reading Molly Yeh’s blog, Molly on the Range, I would have probably never eaten chocolate and tahini together unless I’d had a Reese’s peanut butter cup type happy accident — even though they are two ingredients you will almost always find in my home. Molly did it for me! One of the many recipes she combines the two in is her Chocolate Tahini Cake with Tahini Frosting from her cookbook Molly on the Range. If you are a bit skeptical, try it to believe it. (And make it in the form of the little mini cakes because they are so cute, and look at how much trim is leftover for snacks!) —Kristina

Why Molly loves this recipe: Whoever invented the saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” clearly didn’t have a pyramid of tahini jars in their pantry and a bowl of chocolate cake batter in front of them. It’s true that there aren’t many better things in life than a rich chocolate cake, but a chocolate cake with nutty tahini sends this thing right over the edge into a territory that’s similar to a chocolate peanut butter cake but every so slightly fancier. The chocolate here remains the star of the show, but with tahini there to play a hearty supporting role, everybody shines their brightest and this cake becomes the dessert of your grownup birthday party dreams.

Molly on the Range cookbook | DesignSponge

Cake and cover photography by Molly Yeh  | Cooking and headshot photography by Chantelle Quernemoen

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Our Team Resolutions for 2017

Our Team Resolutions for 2017

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I’ve gone back and forth over the years with the concept of resolutions. Some years I love to list them out, make a mood board and really focus myself on intentions for the coming months. Then some years I feel like throwing up my hands and just taking the year as it comes, trying to find lessons and learning opportunities as they unfold. But this year our team decided to get together to pause, look back at the year before and then work together to help each other stay true to our goals this year, no matter how big or small. To make things even more fun, we coupled our resolutions with pictures from our childhood. Hopefully my pigtails (above) can give you a little morning laugh. What are your resolutions, goals or intentions for the coming year? xo, grace

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Before & After: A Modern, Wheelchair-Accessible Bathroom

Before & After: A Modern, Wheelchair-Accessible Bathroom, Design*Sponge

Before & After: A Modern, Wheelchair-Accessible Bathroom

Eighteen weeks into her pregnancy, Amy Webb, her husband and daughter waited anxiously to hear whether they’d be bringing home a bouncing baby boy or girl. As the ultrasound commenced, however, the technician hesitated. “I’ll be right back,” she quickly stated, and *zip* she was out of the room. Minutes stretched on and time seemed to stand still until she returned with their doctor. Much to their surprise, just as they were being told their baby was a girl, the physician revealed she would be born with extremely challenging limb differences. “We left the office with no answers. This completely unknown condition was either ‘incompatible with life,’ or if she did live, she was clearly going to have a host of issues, all of which would remain unknown for an indefinite amount of time,” Amy tells us.

It’s been nearly seven years since that scary day in the doctor’s office, and in that time Amy and her family have learned invaluable lessons about unconditional love, problem solving and how much of an amazing gift their differently-abled little one is. The joy and inspiration Lamp, the kiddo’s online moniker, has brought to her family even prompted Amy to begin documenting their life through her blog This Little Miggy Stayed Home. It was here that we first discovered her stellar knack for advocacy and the beautiful bathroom makeover we are walking you all through today. Alongside her husband, Amy’s merged modern amenities, stylish touches and accessible designs that work tremendously well for their daughter and are also easy on the eyes. Click through to see all of the ways they’ve made their space perfect for every member of their family, no matter their needs. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Amy Webb

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What’s In Your Toolbox: Lorraine Nam

What’s In Your Toolbox: Lorraine Nam

What's In Your Toolbox: Lorraine Nam, on Design*Sponge

Creating a better reality is a goal that many people have in common this new year. Brooklyn-based paper illustrator Lorraine Nam makes her own fantastical three-dimensional worlds by hand from flat sheets in vibrant colors. She cuts and glues her miniature set props, then styles a scene to photograph or animate for the final piece. Also interested in the spaces where other artists make their work, as she loves “seeing what they’re seeing,” Lorraine is a co-founder of studio visit blog #ffffff walls where she focuses on “artistic practices and the artist studio. We interview different artists creating work in a dedicated studio space and take a snapshot of their work in that moment in time.” Here’s a look at the woman behind all of these scenes. —Annie

Photography by Lorraine Nam

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3 DIYs That Promote Growth In the New Year

3 DIYs That Promote Growth In the New Year

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I switched up my New Year’s game this year and did the opposite of what I usually do. And it was fantastic! I spend a lot of the time focused on the more serious side of self-care and sometimes I simply forget to play. This year I stayed up until 2 am on New Year’s Eve and had a dance party with my family (my 10-year-old daughter was mortified!). I left all of my hefty resolutions from the past at the door. And I actually opened my front door at midnight, pushed 2016 out, and flapped my hands in the air to literally welcome in 2017.

In an effort to spread the new year/new growth love in these first few days of 2017, I want to share three DIYs that promote growth for you to take for a spin on one of these grey days. First up are these adorable swan planters! Customize your swans, plant a tiny green friend within, and then watch it grow as a reminder of your own growth through self-care.

Click through for the swan planter instructions and two more adorable additions for your DIY calendar that are simple, playful and push you towards growth in 2017! –Caitlin

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A Missouri Home With A Storied Past

Kristen Elise Pickell's Home Tour for Design*Sponge

A Missouri Home With A Storied Past

The word Kristen Elise Pickell uses to describe her love of the past is anemoia. It’s an invented word, found in John Koenig’s Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, and it means “a pang of nostalgia for times you’ve never experienced.” Which is why this 28-year-old high school art teacher living in Kansas City, MO teared up when she toured a 1973 home. The previous owners, Bill and Betty, had worked with an architect on a custom collaboration. Kristen took one look at a home nearly unchanged from its original 1970s conception and rooms filled with stunning vintage pieces, and promptly abandoned her search for a starter home. Bill and Betty were who Kristen imagined herself to be in retirement. Kristen sent a letter to Betty, along with her offer, explaining how special the home was and how much she would cherish it. She was surprised to discover another couple had submitted a nearly identical offer, along with a letter of their own. “It was a matter of a few thousand dollars and somehow they ended up choosing me,” Kristen says. And to think Kristen’s anemoia began years earlier, when she heard the story of her mother and a certain member of the Beatles.

Kristen grew up listening to her mother Sandra tell the story of how she won a radio contest to see the Beatles. It was their first performance in Canada. Her mother described in great detail the rust colored corduroy skirt and jacket with a ruffled bell sleeve top she wore, and the moment Ringo kissed Sandra’s hand, calling her “My lady.” Then, as Kristen was about to enter high school, she discovered a trunk filled with her mother’s belongings. In it were an embroidered top Sandra made, sewing notions, and books on macramé and candle making. Kristen was so taken by her mother’s keepsakes she began seeking out vintage fashion magazines, clothes, and knick-knacks. “I wish so badly that I could have experienced all of these amazing things with her.”

Today, one can see Kristen’s love affair with the past in every room of her home. Weaving together her own finds and family heirlooms with items purchased from previous owners Bill and Betty, Kristen’s home is a vintage wonderland. Kristen was also given the original slides which chronicle the house being built (taken each day of the year-and-a-half building process), records of all items purchased (from large appliances to scouring pads), and binders filled with everything from old wallpaper samples to a catalog from the store where the George Nelson Bubble Lamps were purchased. Oh, and it just so happens Bill and Betty had a cat named Ringo. That’s right, they were Beatles fans, too. “I feel very fortunate to know so much about the original homeowners and the construction and life of my home. I cherish each and every photo, object, and piece of paper they left behind. I’ve now combined my memories and family heirlooms with what was left in the house to start a new story.”

As if all of that weren’t enough to prove Kristen found a home tailor-made for her, Kristen’s art studio even used to be Betty’s studio. Next to a hanging mola, purchased by Betty in Panama, Kristen works as a part-time analog collage artist and weaver. She incorporates vintage and vintage-inspired materials into the prints and collages she sells on Etsy and at Dear Society in Kansas City. Besides working in her studio, Kristen’s other favorite pastime is hanging out at home with her boyfriend Darren and her two rescue cats, Duncan and Pablo. Kristen and Darren tried living together but the cats didn’t get along with Darren’s dog, Charlie. Darren bought a home just down the street, though they haven’t given up hope of living together under one roof. I too hope it works out, because it seems to me Kristen has found a way to turn her nostalgia for a past she’s never experienced into a brick-and-mortar reality. —Liberty 

Photography by Kaley Cornett and Kristen Elise Pickell

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Your Most Inspiring Images of 2016

Your Most Inspiring Images of 2016

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To get ready to tackle this year head-on, I’ve been cleaning out my email inbox, old notes on my phone and trying to glean through all the bits and clips of inspiration to see what to carry forward with me into 2017. And as I look through the things I’ve saved, I’m reminded of all of the incredible images you all shared with us in our DS hashtag challenges for 2016. So today I wanted to highlight our top 12 images of the entire year, based on your likes, comments and views. From sunsets and flowers to cat paws and incredible tiled arches, these photos will get you started on the right path for a creative new year. xo, grace

Image above by @skinny_wolf of @katiemarxflowers via @ameliapresents

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Welcome New Customers With A Great First Impression

Welcome New Customers With A Great First Impression

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With a new year upon us, making the most of the coming months is top of mind. For us here at Design*Sponge, we’re investing more time in pie-in-the-sky projects and creating more meaningful relationships with our readers and those companies, large and small, that share the values we hold dear. With that in mind, we’re sharing a few tips on how to welcome customers (and those who may become customers). Aligning yourself and your business with people who need your expertise is what we all strive for. Make sure you express who you are and how you can help from that very first moment of contact!

Tip #1: Be bold and create a logo, card or other paper collateral that represents who you are, what you do and most importantly, what you and your business are all about. The end result doesn’t have to be bold, and a simple approach like choosing impactful typography to spell your brand in a foil or letterpress card can speak volumes. Here are some lovely examples from Carda & Co for inspiration.

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Tip #2: Invest in high-quality, bespoke business cards and stationery. Any beautifully designed, heavyweight object that people can touch and feel creates a special place in their senses and brain just for you. They’ll remember you before that bookmarked page on the Internet which happens to offer the same product or service.

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Click through for the most important tip of all and get ready to have a great (and prosperous) new year! –Caitlin

This post is brought to you in collaboration with Carda & Co., offering premium business cards and accessories to make a great first impression. Shop their collections here and follow them on Instagram here.

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The Tula Plant Truck Hits the Road

The Tula Plant Truck Hits the Road, on Design*Sponge

The Tula Plant Truck Hits the Road

After adorning An Airy Modern Greenhouse in Brooklyn, NY and co-founding a plants and design business called Tula, Christan Summers and Ivan Martinez have taken their passion for bringing plants to people on the road, building a first-of-its-kind mobile greenhouse. Tulita, as the tricked out plant truck is affectionately called, began as a run-down 1987 Chevy parked deep in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood. Christan found the pre-makeover Tulita for sale on an early morning run, and immediately saw that she had potential — a shape with character and small size, easily maneuverable around urban streets. Once the truck was theirs, Ivan designed the aesthetic and functional transformation, bringing in Master Chef Mobile Kitchens to fabricate the vision. They started by cutting off the roof and reinforcing the interiors with triangulated aluminum cross bars, then installing a retractable service window on the passenger side. After the structure was remodeled, Tulita was painted a dark green symbolizing Christan and Ivan’s love for horticulture. Exterior branding was hand-done in old school lettering by Jon Bocksel, who is a traditional sign painter. The finished greenhouse on wheels has been visiting different Brooklyn neighborhoods since April 2016, relocating itself to local markets and fairs, or wherever city dwellers need the inspiration with which to fall in love with plants.

The truck fits as many plants as possible while allowing people to come inside, shop, and experience what it’s like to stand in a mobile greenhouse — checking out the plants, planters made in collaboration with local potters, and loads of plant accessories. Never ones to stand still, for Tulita’s next iteration, Christan and Ivan are working on ways to upgrade the efficiencies of transit and plant growth. —Annie

Photography by Ivan Martinez and Christan Summers

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January 2017 Editor’s Letter + #DSinspire

January 2017 Editor’s Letter + #DSinspire

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Good morning and happy 2017, everyone! I wanted to take this moment to check in and talk about our plans here at Design*Sponge this year. Last year was a rollercoaster of huge life changes, travel, and emotions, but with all of the change and adjustment came a sort of clarity for me. I realized what’s really important to me and what our mission and voice here at Design*Sponge will be going forward.

After Julia and I finished our book tours this fall, we spent a lot of our free time doing volunteer work in our area. I have never felt more useful, more plugged into my community and more in touch with what matters most to me in life. Those moments of honing in on what makes me feel good (helping people and making sure families have what they need) helped me clarify what I want to do here at Design*Sponge for the coming year: I want to make design personal again.

Over the past decade I’ve watched design go the way of fast-fashion: favoring quantity over quality and demanding immediate gratification. Trends seem to turn over in a matter of weeks and judgement is quick and harsh if someone’s home/decor isn’t everything the market is demanding.

There will always be plenty of magazines and blogs to cover the latest/greatest anything in our design community, but as I head into my 13th year of blogging here at Design*Sponge (what?!) I know that my mission is to reconnect the things and spaces we love with the people and stories behind them.

I focused on this style with my latest book, In the Company of Women, and it’s going to be our focus going forward this year. We will always talk about exciting new people, artists, designers, objects and interiors — but we want to spend more time finding the things that make them special and presenting them in a way that helps you connect more closely and with more meaning. I want to hear people’s voices in their homes, see what inspires them and, most importantly, connect with all of you in a way that lets us learn from each other, motivate our community and do good together.

To kick off this focus, this month’s content focus at D*S is going to be about coziness and hygge (a concept getting a lot of well-deserved love online lately). We’re going to be sharing homes that exude a comfy-cozy vibe, collecting decorating ideas and tips with that feel in mind, and talking to people in our community who can help us all create a little more cozy in our lives.

This month’s hashtag challenge is all about inspiration, too — so if you’d like to join the fun, share a photo of words of wisdom you see in your everyday life and share it online with the hashtag #DSInspire. Whether it’s a page in a book, something you handwrite on paper, see in a magazine or a message written in tile on the floor of your favorite coffee shop, we want to see what words of wisdom, inspiration and motivation are keeping YOU going this month. Here’s to a wonderful year full of meaning, purpose, connection and love. xo, grace

Image above via Wenderly on Instagram, from the #DSInspire feed 

 

Happy Holidays + Holiday Decorations + See you in January!

Happy Holidays + Holiday Decorations + See you in January!

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Every year our little D*S family takes a week off to relax, restore and spend time with friends and family. But before we head out for our holiday break (we’ll be back on January 3rd!), I wanted to share some of my favorite images from this month’s hashtag challenge: #DSHoliday. You all shared so many beautiful images of wreaths, handmade ornaments and clever DIY decor! I was so impressed and moved by your stunning photos of what the holiday season looks like in your hometown, too. Thank you so much for sharing with us.

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And thank you for sharing with us every other day of the year. From your comments here to your emails and notes on social media to getting to see so many of you in person for the In the Company of Women book tour this year, your feedback, thoughts and inspiration keep us motivated and working harder every year. I can’t wait to share what we have planned for 2017. Until then, from all of us at Design*Sponge, we send you all our best wishes for a safe and happy holiday season and a wonderful 2017. See you in January! xo, grace

Read on for more of our favorite #DSHoliday images after the jump! Images above, top to bottom by: laurenlcarongina__block, heather.dawn.smithawilderkind, familleribeaucourt and lamericaineinprovence

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Luisa Weiss’ Christbrot

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Luisa Weiss’ Christbrot

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! I’ve been listening to my Christmas music since the day after Thanksgiving, and I have Love Actually ready to go! What was missing from my Christmas routine was a typical Christmas sweet to bake — a labor of love. Luisa Weiss’ new book Classic German Baking has an entire section dedicated to Christmas baking! I chose the wonderful Christbrot, or Sweet Christmas Bread, evocative of Stollen. Note that the candied fruit must soak for two days prior to baking!

We send our sincere condolences to the families and friends of the victims of the tragic Berlin Christmas Market incident. If you are in Berlin and would like to provide support, you may donate blood through local hospitals or the German Red Cross (On Twitter: Deutsches Rotes Kreuz). It is also possible to make contributions in other ways through the DRK website for those not local to Berlin. —Kristina

Why Luisa loves this recipe: In my recently published cookbook, called Classic German Baking, the biggest chapter by far is the Christmas chapter. The subject of German Christmas baking is so vast that, much like German bread, it really almost deserves its own book. I restricted myself to sharing only those recipes that I truly adore and those that I think are emblematic of the beautiful traditions that are still essential to Christmastime in Germany. In my attempts at developing a great homemade Stollen recipe, I discovered Christbrot, a similar but less buttery baked good. The relief I felt at discovering Christbrot was surpassed only by my surprise when I realized I actually prefer it to Stollen. Now it’s one of my favorite wintertime baking projects and one of the most coveted gifts for friends to emerge from my kitchen.

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