A Handmade Home in the Bay Area

A Handmade Home in the Bay Area | Design*Sponge

A Handmade Home in the Bay Area

The night before Becca Piastrelli and her husband Tim were going to sign a lease for a rental in another town, a poorly written and poorly photographed ad for a house in Mill Valley, CA popped up. It was where they wanted to be. Becca trusted her intuition and went to the open house and they both found what they were looking for. Timing is everything sometimes, and even the most thorough searches can be set off by one last look.

Becca is a full-time blogger, maker and doer. “I am passionate about dabbling and making — working with my hands is what makes me happiest. I used to work in the corporate tech industry in San Francisco, but found I was much happier making lip balm and kombucha than presenting power points to executive boards,” Becca says. “So I made the leap into blogging full-time several years ago and haven’t looked back.” Tim is a computer engineer who loves all things practical and efficient.

The bohemian-meets-semi-traditional vibe in this space is a fair representation of the couple. “The decorating process has been an organic one. I’ve learned, over the years, to patiently wait for the right pieces to come across your path,” Becca says. “We wanted it to feel cozy, magical, and like a blend of our two styles. My style is natural with a bit of worldly woo woo (my own term) and my husband’s is modern with a hint of Star Wars. We make quite the pair and a lot of that is reflected in our home together.” The mix of cool green walls and architectural quirks in the home supports both styles, allowing the couple to feel creative and inspiring them to continue to make their home a collaborative and loved space. —Lauren

Photography by Rosa Delgado

 

 

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Before & After: Tooth & Nail Winery

Before & After: Tooth & Nail Winery, on Design*Sponge

Before & After: Tooth & Nail Winery

Late last summer Makers & Allies, a California creative agency specializing in design for wine, craft, and spirits brands, was tapped to revive an abandoned vineyard in Paso Robles. The new tenant, Tooth & Nail Winery, would be occupying the 20,000-square-foot commercial castle in just six months from that date, and its “sleek, edgy, and a little bit raw” vibe could not endure the building’s Medieval Disney flair.

The original 2001 interiors were revamped with a fully functioning tasting room where mere mortals might actually want to hold their weddings and special events. The old ceilings were reminiscent of a Gothic church and left shorter visitors feeling claustrophobic, while taller ones were constantly on the lookout for pointy, hanging pendants. Their removal visually expanded the rooms’ height, making it more to scale with the rest of the castle, and removed any potential environmental hazards. The team introduced new materials that felt polished but also a little bit rugged. Three types of steel were used throughout the project: Cor-ten outside, blackened for vertical surfaces in the tasting room, and stainless on the horizontal surfaces. Earthy metal, wood, and leather finishes are interspersed with brighter velvet, brass, and mirrored touches.

In keeping with the real-life fairytale theme of previous inhabitants, a moat circles the structure, though all its armored alligators must have relocated as well. If the property was constructed to imply a sense of historical importance, its new purpose is allowing guests to create their own fond memories within the space, and of course, to enjoy some wine. —Annie

Photography by Mark Gvazdinskas

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An Airy Virginia Sanctuary for All Sorts of Wildlife

An Airy Virginia Sanctuary for All Sorts of Wildlife, on Design*Sponge

An Airy Virginia Sanctuary for All Sorts of Wildlife

Five years ago, Chelsea and Matt Bieber welcomed three kids into the world within 16 months — boy-girl twins Colin and Shire, and a sweet surprise baby boy right behind them. When they moved into this 1,800-square-foot split-level home 25 miles outside Washington, DC in Herndon, VA, little Mason still hadn’t yet hatched. Chelsea, who co-owns a furniture refinishing and design business called StyleMutt Home, has spent the years since experimenting with decoration that suits her childrens’ untamed energy, as well as the parents’ more sophisticated tastes.

Developing their own aesthetic took some time. After living in the house and realizing its potential, Chelsea set out to create a peaceful place in which she and her husband could relax, but one that would also be fun and functional for their brood. She believes parents owe it to themselves to create adult homes that aren’t totally focused on raising offspring. “Kids can learn to respect furniture, spaces, and pieces,” she says. This family has struck a compromise between the two approaches. For example, the patina of a large wooden coffee table becomes more interesting as it gets dinged up, and the dining room’s pipe shelves add an industrial statement to the main floor while providing easy access to craft and activity supplies. A creek on one side of the property encourages wildlife to come through the wooded backyard, and on a nice morning, Chelsea will open the sliding glass door to listen to the birds’ symphony. Bouncing off the vaulted ceilings, their sounds echo through the home as if in a bird sanctuary. This unexpected feature is also one of the most beloved, as is the ability for Chelsea to watch her own wild ones on various floors, the layout of which allows everyone to spread their wings, but not too far. —Annie

Photography by Chelsea Bieber

 

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A Cartoonist and Illustrator’s Easygoing Rental

A Cartoonist and Illustrator's Strategically Easygoing Rental, Design*Sponge

A Cartoonist and Illustrator’s Easygoing Rental

There are so many design styles, artists and vintage pieces to love, I sometimes worry if I’m packing too much into my home. I don’t live in a giant space, and learning how to edit is something I’m constantly working on. Part of the challenge is how easy it is to find new treasures! With the click of a button, you can upgrade – and potentially overstuff – your space.

Keiko Brodeur and cartoonist Malachi Ward are no strangers to the challenge of fitting your big life into a small apartment. The two creatives used to live and work out of this 550-square-foot apartment in Pasadena, CA. Their growing collection of vintage finds and work supplies, however, quickly left them feeling boxed in by their space. “We literally had narrow walking paths between stacks of boxes,” Keiko explains. A year ago, the stress finally proved too much for the couple, and they decided that separating work and play was mandatory.

The couple immediately felt liberated once all of their tools were out of the picture and neatly stowed in the new studio. Eager to finally furnish the home of their dreams, they dove headfirst into decking out their one-bedroom apartment. Just like for me, an edited aesthetic didn’t come naturally to the couple. Their penchant for plants and irresistible accessories could have easily left their home feeling cramped, but they simply kept telling themselves to stick to the plan. What was that plan? To find the right balance between functionality and coziness – a warm space where they could relax. Their well-thought-out design decisions are so organic that they become invisible. All we see is a nest that’s so effortless and easy it’s hard to imagine the space looking any other way. I adore their home’s laid-back attitude, and I hope you do as well. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Hollin Brodeur

 

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DIY Gold Detail Notebooks – Three Ways

DIY Gold Detail Notebooks – Three Ways

DIY Gold Detail Notebooks
When it comes to organization and making lists, most people have a clear preference on whether they go for a digital list or a good, old fashioned, pen-and-paper to-do list. I, on the other hand, go for a bit of both. I love making quick lists that I can jot down as I’m at my computer or on my phone while I’m out. It’s reassuring to know I’m not going to lose ideas on small scraps of paper in the abyss of my purse, never to be seen again. And don’t get me started on how many shopping lists I’ve painstakingly made only to realize they are still sitting on my kitchen table the moment I walk into the store.

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However, there’s nothing like an hour spent scribbling out every thought to get to the idea that’s hiding right at the back of your mind. With a creative brain you can absorb much more from a page of notes and pictures than a list on a computer screen. So I try to make a conscious effort to go back to paper and pen when I’m looking for new ideas. It was during one of these sessions that I had the idea to decorate these notebooks. I’m taking that as proof that the theory works. —Fran

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‘Traditional With a Twist’ Style in San Francisco

A Western Addition Traditional with a Twist, on Design*Sponge

‘Traditional With a Twist’ Style in San Francisco

Pro event planner Kaella Lynn Wilson routinely styles weddings to perfection, but when it came to decorating the 1,800-square-foot flat she and husband Erin Wilson Jr. had recently renovated, she felt frustrated trying to establish her “traditional with a twist” style in a (covertly) kid-friendly way. Wilson asked interior designer Felice Press at Homepolish to help highlight the beauty of the artisan architectural features with preppy (but not stuffy), practical decor that wouldn’t seem as though it was purchased exclusively for two-year-old Beau and his forthcoming brother. The 1897 Victorian in San Francisco’s Western Addition neighborhood still retains its period crown molding, fireplace mantel, and original windows. Press draws attention to these fine details by styling upper shelves with delicate, eye-catching objects, while filling lower levels with Beau’s toys for his own easy access.

As in any design process, a certain amount of trial and error was required before settling on priorities for the space. For example, the team bought a coffee table they loved but ultimately concluded marble is not an ideal material for use around small children, due to its porous nature and tendency to stain. They also purchased a number of items online that turned up inaccurate color discoveries in person. In the end, all the various efforts to fine-tune direction, make decisions, and pull rooms together happened just in time for the home’s next and most anticipated addition. —Annie

Photography by Lauren Edith Andersen, except where noted

 

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14 Beautiful Rugs that Make a Room

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14 Beautiful Rugs that Make a Room

One month last summer, I bought three rugs from three separate places with no real place for them to end up in my home. I had been looking for rugs for over a year and really couldn’t commit to any, and then all of a sudden, there were so many that I had to have. Rugs are tricky that way – being the right pattern but the wrong color or the right weave but the wrong size – but some are perfect. Design*Sponge has featured so many gorgeous rugs that remarkably complete the rooms they adorn. These are some of the best rugs that have shown up on our site over the last few years. —Lauren

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Life & Business: Percy and Tara of Jersey Ice Cream Co.

Life & Business: Percy and Tara of Jersey Ice Cream Co.

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Sometimes the process of elimination is what puts you on a path towards happiness in your career and discovering what it is that you really want to —and should — be doing. This was the case for Tara Mangini and Percy Bright of Jersey Ice Cream Co., who, despite their name, make work just as enjoyable as ice cream! It wasn’t until they started selling vintage pieces on Etsy when they realized that what they really wanted was to impact and craft homeowners’ entire spaces as a full-service, turn-key interior design duo.

As self-proclaimed “homeless home designers,” Percy and Tara relocate to renovate homes across the country, dropping everything to put their whole heart into each project they undertake. From start to finish, their clients hand over their keys and trust Percy and Tara to dream, design, build, furnish and style their home, from ripping down walls and getting messy to sourcing furniture at local flea markets wherever their jobs take them. Though they couldn’t be happier doing what they love, life and business weren’t always so seamless, and starting their company came with its fair share of headaches and lessons. Today, Tara is opening up about how they started, how they’ve grown, what they’ve learned along the way and what the future holds. –Sabrina

PS: Percy and Tara have some seriously impressive before and after transformations. Check them out!

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Life & Business: Becky Waddell of Be Clean

Life & Business: Becky Waddell of Be Clean

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Becky Waddell is obsessed with labels — that is, ingredient labels. After years of using beauty products laden with unnecessary ingredients such as fragrances, animal products, thickeners and preservatives, she was fed up. Even high-end, natural skin and body care shops had labels littered with complicated ingredients, so Becky set out to create an alternative. Be Clean is a curated apothecary shop that carries 100% natural, plant-based products you can feel good about using. Located in the creative haven of Washington, DC, Be Clean offers a carefully selected collection of handcrafted products made in the USA from local makers. More than just a shop-owner, Becky is passionate about helping change the landscape of skincare and beauty, and opens up the shop often to host local events and classes to encourage a community of support and creativity. Today we’re thrilled to have Becky share her humble vision for the future, as well as business advice, insight and best practices. –Sabrina

Photography by  Morgan Hungerford West, author of PandaHeadBlog and A Creative DC.

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Columbus, Ohio City Guide

Columbus, Ohio City Guide

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When Cecily Hill, Director of Marketing and Communications for Books@Work, first moved to Columbus, Ohio for graduate school, her friends and fellow Southerners were quick to comment. They warned her that she would be trading the Gulf South’s coastal getaways and mild winters (where she lived at the time) for a brutally cold Midwestern climate. Despite their concerns, she quickly fell in love with Columbus and all it has to offer, from its summer outdoor film and concert series, to its Winter Wildlight extravaganza at the much-lauded Columbus Zoo — and she’s not the only one. In 2014 alone, Forbes named Columbus the #1 Opportunity City in the nation, and The Atlantic lovingly profiled the city as part of its American Futures series.

Columbus boasts the nation’s top-ranked public library and some of the best food and shopping in the Midwest. It also plays host to the nation’s largest multi-sport festival, named after Arnold Schwarzenegger. The city’s vibrant opportunities and entertainment always surprise outsiders — but never locals. This week’s city guide comes to us from bookworm Cecily, featuring a just a sliver of her favorite things to do and see! –Sabrina

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D*S Team Tours: Sabrina’s 1950s Bungalow in Milton, Ontario

D*S Team Tours: Sabrina’s 1950s Bungalow in Milton, Ontario

D*S Team Tours: Sabrina’s 1950s Bungalow in Milton, Ontario

When I was 23, just a few years ago, I bought my first home at an estate auction. It’s a story that I’ll surely tell my grandchildren, and one that still makes me shake my head with the absurdity of it all. I was born and raised in Milton, Ontario (just west of Toronto), and as a child, I visited what is now my home often. It was where friends of my grandparents lived (whom also worked for the family business), and my sisters and I always looked forward to visiting every Halloween where we were treated with far too much candy. I grew up just two blocks away from that house, and I have many memories of speeding down the street on my bike, waving as I whizzed by, admiring the hedges and geraniums that were perfectly manicured, and dropping in on occasion with family. Years later, when I learned that the home was being sold, I couldn’t help but attend the auction to tour the home I had always known from the outside but never fully explored inside — not anticipating that I’d bet on the home. It had many original features including hand-modelled decorative plaster ceilings, hardwood floors, a large picture-window that brought in lots of light, and an income suite in the basement. Including having an emotional attachment to the space, it crossed off many items on my list, and before I knew it, I was raising my arm, bidding on the home with a belly full of nerves. Long story short, I was the highest bidder to which the auctioneer said, “going once, going twice, sold!”

Since then, my home and I have gone through the entire spectrum of emotions, from disbelief that I owned it to gratitude and nostalgia, to seeing its potential, to being annoyed with it, to wanting more, finding it and losing it, and most recently, falling back in love with it. The nature of how my home and I came together is a zany one, and the nonstop excitement and change it has brought hasn’t stopped since; so when Grace approached the D*S team with the prospect of profiling our personal homes, I thought it would be a great opportunity to capture a moment in time. Just recently, I was considering moving and even put in an offer on (what I thought was) the home of my dreams, only to lose it. Since then, I’ve unexpectedly fallen back in love with my current space and the process has made me appreciate certain aspects of the home that I had once taken for granted: a huge, lush backyard where Piper can run around in as I garden, having family a stone’s throw away, the incredible sunlight that streams in, and the potential it has to become the space of my dreams. It was just this past week that I decided to stay and make it work by renovating it, which will mean knocking down walls, transforming the basement into an office and den, and completely gutting and renovating the kitchen. So these photos of my humble, 1950s bungalow will shortly become a time-capsule of sorts.

I love my home, and it will always have a special place in my heart, no matter what form it takes or how it’s decorated. Being my first home, it’s become my place of rest and my place of inspiration, and has allowed me to experiment with all things home design, DIY and the like. Buying a house, especially at a young age, was nerve-racking and scary at times, but it’s forced me to grow and learn and it makes me proud every day to wake up and call it my own. This is where I gather with friends, where I’m raising my puppy and where I’ve started my life with my partner, Shawn. It’s the space I’ve grown into an adult in, but above all else, my home has taught me that the grass isn’t always greener. In fact, the best of things might be right under your nose. –Sabrina

Photography by Sabrina Smelko

 

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An Olympian and Photographer’s Do-It-Yourself Craftsman

An Olympian and Photographer's Do-It-Yourself Craftsman, Design*Sponge

An Olympian and Photographer’s Do-It-Yourself Craftsman

Do-it-yourself projects are one thing I wish I made more time for. I used to do them all the time, but now that I think about it, it’s been a solid four months since I got my hands dirty and really crafted something. The experience is always so rewarding. Even if the final result isn’t what I had in mind, the act of making something always leaves me feeling accomplished and proud.

While I can’t seem to find time to complete one project, photographer Jacqueline and Olympic sailor Andrew have infused their bungalow with DIY. After spending seven years on the east coast, the couple moved back to Andrew’s hometown of San Diego, CA to escape the rent race. “We were looking for urban living in a youthful and diverse neighborhood, as well as a place where we could have a detached house with a yard,” Jacqueline says. Their 1925 craftsman had all that and more, but it did take a bit of handy work to get it up to snuff. They had lived in rentals so long that being able to customize their space was a welcome change, and they took full advantage. Installing wood floors, painting all the walls and furnishing the 2-bedroom home took a year and a half to complete. Andrew’s number one priority was comfort, and Jacqueline was eager to incorporate her love for mid-century design into their nest. “We wanted to create a bright, inviting and relaxed space with modern touches,” says the couple.

Once the inside was taken care of, they focused their attention on the backyard. Their goal was to create a fluid design that would help them “live inside and outside all at once.” Through custom-made pieces and a bit of a green thumb, it’s evolved into a spot perfect for entertaining and an oasis all their own. I am a little envious! What a fantastic treat to be able to walk out your door right into a flourishing garden. The outdoor space, however, is just one of the many beautiful spots in this couple’s well-loved home. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Jacqueline Campbell

 

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This Painter’s Baltimore Home Embodies Vintage Ease

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This Painter’s Baltimore Home Embodies Vintage Ease

Having lived in Belarus, New York, Pennsylvania and now Maryland, Daria Souvorova has seen her fair share of apartments. Moving can be tiresome, but it has taught her exactly what a home must have in order for her creativity and happiness to flourish. Her latest move saw her strolling around Baltimore’s Mount Vernon neighborhood looking for a new apartment. Checklist in hand, she was eager to find a place with “decorated mantels, parquet floors, huge windows, chandeliers and high ceilings.”

It was another feature, however, that had Daria pining for this 2-bedroom walkup: leaded, glass windows. Every room in the 800-square-foot apartment has them. The windows’ history and beauty immediately caught her eye, but the planner in Daria had to make doubly sure this was the right fit. In the same thoughtful manner in which she approached her apartment search, she crafted a 2D, scale model of the walkup. She even gridded out furniture beforehand so she could know exactly how every item would fit inside! Luckily this exercise proved the home’s worth, and she moved right in.

Since the larger furniture’s location was already planned out, Daria was able to focus on trimming the home with her curated collection of artwork – some by close friends and herself. Daria’s decorating goal is quite evident as you peek around the house. Each ornament works together to create “a meeting place for friends and family,” with a vintage touch and a focus on comfort. Her get-togethers have already become the stuff of legends, and she is incredibly grateful that her friends feel comfortable in her new home. Daria’s multiple fireplaces, furs, rugs and collected charms serve as the perfect backdrop to long, giggly friend-dinners. Can I get an invite next time, Daria? I’d feel right at home in this place. It’s endlessly cozy and effortless. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Rafael Soldi

 

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D*S Book Peek + Best Of

D*S Book Peek + Best Of

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This week we’re booking what feels like a few hundred plane and train tickets to travel across the country for photoshoots for our upcoming book. I’m both excited and terrified (I’m not good with planes) but mostly excited for the chance to meet some of my biggest idols. Our big travel starts next week and I can’t wait to hit the road and see how this dream of a project turns out. Until then, I’m sharing some of our favorite links from around the web this week, and a few sneak peeks behind the scenes of workspaces of some of the people we’ve photographed for the book so far. The photo above is from Linda Rodin‘s home (photographed by Sasha Israel) and the photo below is from Carla Fernandez‘s photoshoot in Mexico City with Ana Hop. xo, grace

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Studio Tour: Helen Levi Ceramics

Studio Tour: Helen Levi Ceramics, on Design*Sponge

Studio Tour: Helen Levi Ceramics

The studio of Brooklyn-based ceramicist Helen Levi is perched above, of all things, a mouse trap factory. When a certain machine in the Sunset Park warehouse is switched on downstairs, a consistent melodic thumping sound can be heard throughout the building. Visitors joke about her neighbors playing house music, “when, really, it’s the glue traps,” she quips. With the help of designers Chen and Kai (and her dog Billy), Levi set up this 250-square-foot workspace a year and a half ago in a carved-out corner of the markers’ larger studio. Levi worked in a communal space before arriving at this location, and she desperately needed to spread out. She aimed to create as much storage as possible without feeling cluttered, and she lines the vertical height of the room with tall shelving units to get the most out of each wall. The huge industrial windows maintain a bright, open quality even as the metal racks reach capacity.

Despite its small square-footage relative to the amount of production it puts out, Levi is happy with her studio as it is today, though she anticipates a time when continuing to grow her business will require more. Until that day comes, Levi loves having a workroom that belongs only to her, where she can leave a mess if she doesn’t feel like cleaning up (which she admits is often). She also appreciates the ample sunlight, even if a mostly-glass facade offers minimal insulation from extreme hot or cold temperatures. Not even the mouse trap soundtrack below can harsh this vibe. —Annie

Photography by Helen Levi, except where noted

 

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