D*S Team Tours: Garrett’s Chicago Greystone

D*S Team at Home: Garrett's Chicago Greystone, Design*Sponge

D*S Team Tours: Garrett’s Chicago Greystone

I left Texas for Chicago, IL with only three suitcases and a job. Immediately, I set out on a trek to find a “For Rent” sign. Like a mirage, one popped up on a quiet street overlooking a quaint elementary school. Bunnies even frolic in the garden. Sounds like a fairy tale, right? Believe me, I felt like I was in one! The landlords were simply too kind, the inside too perfect and the surroundings too picturesque for me to pass up. Stumbling upon it was so serendipitous, I felt destined to start my new life right there. Five years later, I’m still grateful to call the greystone on Fremont Street “home.”

For the first two months, I lived with my clothes, a rocking chair and a blanket. The space came together very slowly, and I reveled in the ability to make a home from scratch. Initially, my taste was much more rustic than the mix you’ll see as you click through — that was probably the lingering influence of Texas. I’m still a huge fan of distressed accessories, but over the years my style has become more eclectic, lustrous and a bit silly. Decorating is so much fun, and I enjoy not taking it too seriously. Crafting and DIY have also played a major role in my home’s look. Bits and bobs of my own making dot my bachelor pad. Since I live alone, and there’s no one else to influence the style, the home is 100% me. As I was designing my space, it was important that the end result be cozy and fun. I’m an extroverted introvert, so I cherish my alone time. I’m comfortable resetting here with my quirky finds and wouldn’t trade that for anything.

That laid-back atmosphere has proven to be an invaluable aspect of my home. In retrospect, it’s crystal clear why I moved to Chicago. I needed to meet “me” without any pressures or expectations. I found moving to a new place liberating. Being a little fish in a big pond let me truly open up and be vulnerable for the first time ever. With that vulnerability came all sorts of emotions, but I always knew I could step inside my second-story apartment and feel at home.

Fremont Street has been the backdrop to some of my most thrilling memories — one of which happened a year ago this September. As I sat on the floor eating animal crackers, I found out I was the newest member of the Design*Sponge team. It continues to be a dream come true. I hope you enjoy peeking inside my home as much as I have enjoyed working with Grace and the team this past year. Cheers to many more peeks to come! —Garrett

Photography by Carolina Mariana

 

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Free Pattern Downloads from Jen at Willowmark Works

Free Pattern Downloads from Jen at Willowmark Works

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As the summer comes to a close, I wanted to work with an artist to create a special pattern download giveaway that reminded me the beach and soft watery colors. So I reached out to Jen Lashek in Vancouver, who runs an excellent Instagram feed called Willowmark Works. Inspired by the #100daysofwatercolourworks challenge led by @elleluna and @greatdiscontent, Jen has been working in watercolors to create and share beautiful patterns on her feed. I’ve been following her for a while now and have loved and admired her daily practice and the imagery she’s been sharing with all of us. Thankfully she was up for the challenge of creating original patterns to share with us here!

With a background in education and science, Jen has only recently started sharing her work online and I’m honored that she is sharing these beautiful images with us here all week. She said, about this project, “I’m happiest in the quiet of nature and often find inspiration in patterns cast in shadows and reflected light. These paintings really grew from my playing with the medium and my addiction to watching how colours layer and bleed into one another. I chose to stay away from the traditional florals and ended up playing with a lot of geometrics.”

I’m so happy with all the final patterns she’s sharing with us here this week. Thanks so much to Jen for creating these for us- you can check out and follow more of her work right here on Instagram.

CLICK HERE to download Jen’s first day pattern design for all your tech devices (please note: these are for personal use only).

Happy Birthday Caitlin!

Happy Birthday Caitlin!

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It’s not often that you find a colleague that lives and breathes your ideas, your company and your mission as much as you do. When you find someone like that you are truly lucky and we here at DS are majorly lucky because we’ve had Caitlin Kelch as a part of our team for a long time now. Caitlin is our relationship and brand director, meaning she’s the person behind so many of the projects that keep us up and running and able to do the things we want to do here on the editorial side of the site. She’s also shared some wonderfully personal posts with us in the past year that make me incredibly proud and honored to work alongside her.

In addition, she’s made it possible for Kelli and I to travel and focus on finishing up the new DS book the past few months and for that- and much more- we are eternally grateful. Today is her birthday so I just wanted to take a moment to wish her a VERY happy birthday and send her some love and a million thank yous for all of the incredible work she does with us here at DS. We are so happy to have you as a part of our DS family, Caitlin! xo, Grace

*Cake stand above from Food52

Guilty Pleasures, a Mini-Vacation + Best of The Web

Guilty Pleasures, a Mini-Vacation + Best of The Web

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First, there was National S’mores and Lazy Day earlier this week, then National Creamsicle Day (which is today), and now I’m heading up north for my first summer cottage getaway of the year. It’s been an indulgent week for me in the best way possible: I’ve been enjoying the fruits — err, vegetables — of my labor from the back garden, I am feeling like a queen in my newly made-over bedroom (which Piper is also a fan of), and I’ve accomplished all of the design and illustration work I’ve had on my plate for a while. After working weekends for the last few months, I’m taking today through Monday off, and am excited to kick back, unplug and relax — did I mention August 15th is National Relaxation day?! So enjoy today’s round-up, which features some of the best guilty-pleasure finds from the past week. Sayonara for now! —Sabrina

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In the Kitchen With: Y. Lee’s Matcha Madeleines

In the Kitchen With: Y. Lee’s Matcha Madeleines

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I have been following pastry cook and baker-for-hire, Y. Lee, for quite a few years. Her baking has always attracted me, and since her move to Instagram, where she uses the name Lemonpi, I have been able to follow what she eats on her faraway travels as well as her world-class meals at home in Sydney. Every couple of days she posts a photo of something delicious-looking for which I’d love to have a recipe, so when she published these Matcha Madeleines, I seized the opportunity to share with our readers. In her original post, she used a shell madeleine pan, but a regular madeleine pan works just as well.  The intensity of the glaze color will depend on the type of tea you use. Y’s glaze is similar to the color of the madeleine cake. —Kristina

Why Y likes this recipe: I’m a sucker for all things matcha and green tea-related because I like that grassy, slightly bitter flavor and the vibrant green color. Also, it reminds me of Japan, which I’ve been lucky enough to visit a few times. It pairs well with lots of things, like red fruits, citrus, chocolate… but I like it at its simplest — just a buttery green tea flavored cake or cookie, and these little cakes have been crowd-pleasers for as long as I can remember!
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A Victorian Home With Countless Treasures in Denver, CO

A Victorian With Countless Treasures in Five Points, Denver, on Design*Sponge

A Victorian Home With Countless Treasures in Denver, CO

When they first stumbled upon the late-19th-century enclave of Kingston Row, Frances and Thaddeus Harjeet were happily settled into a tiny apartment elsewhere in Denver, CO. This distinguished grouping of six homes in the city’s Five Points neighborhood maintains their original Victorian details such as wooden shingles and slate roofs — and the Harjeet home features modern conveniences like high ceilings, big windows, exposed brick walls, and an open-plan, third-floor master suite. Once they saw this place, the Harjeets were immediately charmed by the quirky old house with its rounded edges, misaligned surfaces, and slanted lines at every turn. Frances, the proprietor of a floral design, prop and event styling outfit called prema, decorated the painterly 2,600-square-foot rowhouse alongside husband Thaddeus, a student of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and their Boggle (Beagle/Boston Terrier) pup Artemis, who rules the roost and sleeps under their cozy duvet every night. Frances runs her design studio out of the home and creates huge messes of leaves and flowers all over the kitchen. She uses antique vases and vessels in her design work and prefers to display them around the house rather than storing them in boxes, awaiting events. With so many plants around, the home always feels fresh and alive.

As a young couple and small business owners, Frances and Thaddeus don’t have the means to make everything perfect, nor is that their desire. Certain rooms in the residence have odd proportions due to its age and history — it was once a tenement housing 30 residents! The couple aren’t fans of the wall-to-wall carpeting on the second floor and stairs, but they aren’t yet able to put in all new hardwoods. They’ve tried some creative solutions to these cosmetic concerns, such as investing in great area rugs and creating a custom stair runner to trick the eye away from drab carpeting. Frances purchased a huge antique kilim from a local specialty company, of which the border was removed to create a stair runner. The leftover pieces were then used to make an area rug for the living room and a small carpet for the parlor.

The home is full of treasures found by the pair on their travels, as well as pieces inherited from family members. Both teachers of Ashtanga and Kundalini yoga, Thaddeus and Frances have spent time traveling extensively in India and enjoy the vintage prints, textiles, and rugs that serve as a reminder of those journeys. The home is a repository of memories, childhood moments, adventures taken, and milestones marked. It ignites in Frances a passion for other design projects, and continues to evolve with her as she grows, collects, deepens, and refines her own aesthetic. —Annie

Photography by Ashley Sawtelle

 

 

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Before & After: A Reclaimed Traditional Brick Foreclosure

Before & After: A Reclaimed Traditional Brick Foreclosure, on Design*Sponge

Before & After: A Reclaimed Traditional Brick Foreclosure

The horror stories of rainbow colors, wet carpets, dirty dilapidated surfaces — and a resident colony of spiders as big as the hand of homeowner Lisa Hauenstein — usually come as unexpected surprises to visitors of this pristine Wilmington, North Carolina traditional brick residence. Lisa, the designer behind Threve Interiors, purchased the home with her husband Justin at foreclosure a year and a half ago. In order to make the abandoned space habitable for their son Ayden (and a pack of pets including black Lab Bailey and three cats called Gnocchi, Boris, and Milly), the pair has spent 18 months improving this 3,050-square-foot structure built not-so-long-ago (relative to its awful condition), in 1997.

With a passion for renovation and design, as well as a tendency to adopt stray animals, Lisa and Justin had wondered, “Why not take on a stray house in need of love?” They previously flipped a home to sell, and the experience gave them the confidence needed to tackle this project for their own. Since every single surface here needed to be refinished, it also gave them the chance to personalize finishes and colors to their taste rather than for resale. They had an incredibly tight budget, so they did all the work themselves along with some help from Lisa’s father. On move-in day, the dark-stained floors were still drying from refinishing, so they had to climb through a window on the second floor and live up there for four days until the downstairs hardwoods were able to be walked upon! In addition to her design practice, Lisa owns a home decor booth at local antique shop Zartiques. She and Justin are constantly on the road hunting for antiques and unique pieces, or doing refinishing work until the wee hours of the morning. They almost always have paint under their nails and in their hair, and survive on coffee, but wouldn’t trade it for the world.

The pair are old home lovers at heart. Lisa always thought they would wind up in a house like the one from the movie Father of the Bride, so her goal is to make this new house feel old. She’s accomplished that by adding decorative touches and salvaged materials everywhere she can. For example, an antique mantel and bricks from elsewhere in the state suggest a faux fireplace in the dining room. Lisa and Justin added crystal doorknobs throughout the house and exposed wooden beams wherever they could. They still have a long wishlist of projects to complete, including adding beams and moldings to the family room to make it feel cozier and less contemporary. They are also expecting a large load of locally-sourced raw wood as open, floating shelves in place of the upper kitchen cabinets. Lisa imagines that anyone who takes on a huge renovation must feel like their home is never done. For her, the blank canvas is a perfect showcase for all the vintage finds and rustic touches she adores. People still tell her she’s crazy for designing an entirely white house with a five-year-old boy and four pets, but to her, each one of those things just makes it home. —Annie

Photography by Lisa Hauenstein

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A Colorful Home in An Old Chicago Calculator Factory

A Colorful Home in An Old Chicago Calculator Factory, Design*Sponge

A Colorful Home in An Old Chicago Calculator Factory

Dentist by day and fashion blogger by night, Shaheen Khan fell in love with the Chicago, IL neighborhood of Bucktown almost by accident. Originally hailing from Louisville, KY, (where she met her husband, Trevor Holland, a radiologist), Shaheen moved to Chicago after graduate school. She lived downtown for years, but always found herself spending time in Bucktown, as if magnetized to it. When Shaheen and Trevor stumbled upon this old calculator-manufacturing-factory-turned-lofts in the heart of Bucktown, the decision to say “yes” to the apartment came right after saying “I do” to one another. Following their marriage in 2012, the couple made the move into this open-concept space, which still boasts many of the original factory signage on the building’s brick and stone exterior. “This history behind the building was preserved and the exposed brick and unique fixtures sold us,” Shaheen says.

When the couple first moved to Chicago, they had almost no furniture, so acquiring adaptable pieces that were eclectic but still classic was important, so no matter what space they end up in next, they fit. “My ideas and taste are always evolving, so I am constantly trying new things and switching pieces in and out.”

Though they love their home, it doesn’t come without its challenges. “Our place is very narrow,” Shaheen says, so it’s been a challenge for them to create a open feel while maintaining some separation between spaces, but through Shaheen’s clever use of rugs, she’s been able to create the illusion of defined rooms/areas. Not only is their home a relaxing sanctuary for Shaheen and Trevor to come home to after a hard day’s work or their frequent travels around the globe, it’s also a comfortable, quiet space for hosting friends and family alike. –Sabrina

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Our Favorite Floor Plans

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Our Favorite Floor Plans

You may have noticed lately that we’ve been asking our generous and talented Sneak Peek story subjects to include floorplans with their submissions. The request sends some contributors into a tizzy, as they imagine learning new drafting software or digging up the old architect’s scale ruler from art school to complete the task. In the truest sense of the word, a floorplan is a flat bird’s-eye diagram of a place charted to scale, often noting electrical and plumbing systems, furniture, fixtures, and finishes. It’s inherently complicated, and it’s no wonder the thought of creating such a technical drawing strikes fear in most residents’ hearts!

For our purposes, however, the Sneak Peek floorplan is a friendly aid that gives readers a better understanding of three-dimensional space on a 2D screen. We craft our home tours through targeted photography and sequential photo galleries that link one spot to the next so a reader may activate her internal GPS and understand where shes’s seeing throughout a photoset. We write detailed descriptions to further enhance this awareness. But as hard as we might try to capture a series of rooms through images and words, in the process of translating the physical experience of a space into a webpage, sometimes you just need a trail map to make sense of it all.

Our goal at D*S is to share the varied experiences of how people live, and to inspire readers to add more beauty and function into their own lives. The most seductive photography, while delightful to behold, can sometimes inhibit people from seeing their own homes through a positive lens. Looking at a floorplan can encourage folks to notice the similarities to featured homes within their own spaces, and can inspire the confidence to make the most of their own square footage. Pretty pictures tell a story, but floorplans help us anchor that vision to something real, tangible, and useful.

Our home tours are not complete without portraits of the residents, nor without self-styled slides describing what is most loved about their homes. These components help the interiors photography come alive with the personality that shaped the space in the pictures. Whether floorplans are sketched as if for a whimsical treasure hunt or drawn to the utmost of architectural precision, they say something about a home’s inhabitants, what they do and like to do, and how they communicate with the world. The following chronologically-ordered examples of Sneak Peek floorplans are some of our favorites for those reasons and more. —Annie

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DIY Leaf Catchall

DIY Leaf Catchall

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Keeping catchalls in key places is a great way to keep keys, loose change and jewelry organized. Making them beautiful is a fantastic way to add design elements to small spaces in your home. I wanted to explore an easy way to create natural detail using easy-to-source objects. What’s better to use than plant leaves, which are available for free?

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This took me back to my childhood, scribbling on paper placed over found objects such as pennies, stones and leaves to recreate the texture and detail found on them. Using these objects to print into clay gives a similar outcome, but one that can be manipulated in shape and dimension, too. The result? A timeless snapshot of nature’s unique pattern and a useful spot to help keep you from misplacing your keys! –Fran

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An Open-Concept Loft Overlooking LA

An Open-Concept Loft Overlooking LA, Design*Sponge

An Open-Concept Loft Overlooking LA

Emmy-awarding-winning producer Jeannine Denholm and her husband Dave were way ahead of the curve when they bought their downtown LA loft 10 years ago. Even though the city was “extremely rough around the edges,” the loft’s potential was obvious. They loved “…the view, exposed brick, big windows and high ceiling” so much they decided to take a leap of faith and bought the loft when the price was right. The investment has proven to be a positive one, however, with developers breathing new life into many of the once-derelict parts of the neighborhood. Watching the California city rise anew has been a treat for the pair.

Just like the neighborhood, the loft has been a work in progress for the past decade. Construction was minimal, but finding pieces and a configuration that properly fit the open-air feel had Jeannine and Dave scratching their heads. “Our ceilings are almost 16 feet high and the windows are so big, scale was definitely an issue,” Jeannine says. Initially, the Denholms thought that filling the space would provide the best living arrangement, but they quickly realized that having many tiny pieces in a big space left their home feeling cluttered. Larger and fewer pieces of furniture now act as walls dividing the loft into living, dining and working areas without making it feel disjointed in any way. One rule has stayed consistent throughout the design process: bringing in a new piece means one or two existing ones have to go. This keeps the home feeling open and uncluttered.

With the larger design decisions accounted for, the couple then layered each nook with meaningful touches. Using mementos from their many travels has brought to life their vision of a home where guests “can put their feet up and be comfortable.” Aesthetically, the home’s an obvious winner, but I especially love the many sentimental memories that each piece of artwork and accessory represents. As you’ll see when you click through, Jeannine and Dave’s candor about each piece makes this peek that much sweeter. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Diana Biryuk

 

 

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18 Patios, Porches and Sunrooms Made for Summer

18 Patios, Porches and Sunrooms that Make Us Swoon | Design*Sponge

18 Patios, Porches and Sunrooms Made for Summer

My favorite season is summer – even when it’s so incredibly hot. I just love it. For me, winters come too soon and stay way too long. To make the most of this time of year, I do my best to scout out any and every sunny space nearby where I can spend the warmer months. The gorgeous outside spaces from past D*S home tours are inspiring, so we collected some of the best patios, porches and sunrooms to keep summertime going as long as possible. –Lauren

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Life & Business: Question Yourself, Let Go & Chase Your Passion

Life & Business: Question Yourself, Let Go & Chase Your Passion

Life & Business: Question Yourself, Let Go & Chase Your Passion

We’ve all done it: at one time or another, we’ve all played roles in life, following what we think others expect of us rather than what we know is right. For Katelyn Wood, the creative force behind Love.Luck.Kisses&Cake, the realization that she wasn’t living out the life she wanted to came to her just a few years ago. What started as her blog in 2009 has slowly morphed into a full-time passion project, and over the last few years, she’s expanded her brand into a popular line of American-made stationery and giftable goods as a direct result of realizing a creative void in her life and setting out to fill it. Since shrugging off the heaviness of everyone else’s expectations and doing what she truly wanted, her delightful designs and contagious happiness have made her brand stand out to Martha Stewart, The Today Show and various celebrity clientele. A combination of drive and passion, Katelyn’s brand celebrates the everyday — but life wasn’t always so peachy. Today Katelyn is joining us to share a personal essay with the hope to inspire others to start following their own internal compass. –Sabrina

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Life & Business: Jennifer Dopazo

Life & Business: Jennifer Dopazo

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As a young girl growing up in Venezuela, Jennifer Dopazo had no idea that art could be a career a truth shared by many people working in creative industries but despite her odds, she has worked hard to build an award-winning multimedia design studio in New York. Today, she’s a two-time American Graphic Design Award winner and an international speaker, but in spite of her success (or maybe because of it), Jennifer got lost in the maze of “shoulds.” She found herself following someone else’s blueprint and losing touch with the passion that ignited her once — along with developing an inability to create as she once could. That staleness was Jennifer’s impetus to reignite her business by interviewing creative entrepreneurs involved in everything from chocolate-making to selling books. Inspired, she developed a web series called The Fabricant Way as a side project on top of her already busy life in NYC design. Nine months ago, she joined us to share her tips for pulling off a stress-free collaboration, and today, she’s excited to share more about her background, the path that led her to where she is today, and how passion is more important than accomplishing your to-do list. –Sabrina

Portrait photography by Tahiti Huetter

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24 Hours in Vancouver, BC

24 Hours in Vancouver, BC

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Although I’m Canadian, the farthest west I have traveled is Jasper, Alberta, where I lived in the mountains for a summer. I have never been to Vancouver, so it’s high on my list of places to travel, and today’s 24-hour guide of the city is adding to that itch. Coming to us from Megan McLellan and Emanuel Smedbøl from the adventure blog Field & Forest, the two enjoy the diversity their city offers from the downtown hustle and bustle to the quietness of the mountains, coastline, and lush rain-forests. Megan was born and raised in Vancouver, and Emanuel moved to B.C. six years ago, by way of Vancouver Island and a small isolated mountain valley in Interior B.C.

Today, Megan and Emanuel have documented their ideal day in Vancouver (complete with stunning photos), which packs a mean punch of adventure and wilderness, balanced out with options for eating, shopping or just plain relaxing. Any day that starts with coffee in the great outdoors and ends with good food and shopping is a good day in my books, so today’s 24-hour guide of beautiful Vancouver, Canada is certainly one to be bookmarked (and one that requires hiking boots)! –Sabrina

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